Aaja Nachle- What's not to like?

By Rohini Mohan

aajanachle.jpgAaja Nachle – another consummate entertainer for the entire family by Yash Chopra. That’s the thought that crossed my mind when the movie was over. It was endorsed by a bunch of teenagers in the seat behind me. ‘Good Movie, tabhi to flop hui’ was  the comment.
Let me start at the beginning, with the storyline. Dia, (Madhuri) is an NRI divorcee mom of a pre-teen daughter in New York (of course) who teaches dance. One day she gets a call from her native village, a one-horse town named Shamli, that the open air theater, Ajanta, which she is sentimentally attached to and is currently in ruins, is to be torn down by the government so a mall can be built in its stead. Ms David sets out to face Goliath, represented by the self proclaimed bad guy, Akshaye Khanna. He is a young, foreign educated, suave, impartial MP. She begs him to reconsider the mall decision. He laughs at her for wanting to save the world but allows her the option of staging a show in 60 days with talent picked entirely from hicktown, Shamli. If it is a success, he says, Ajanta will be saved from destruction.  Can Dia perform this insurmountable task?  Is Akshaye really the bad guy? Rhetorical questions, both, we are talking Bollywood.
Madhuri looks good. Her age shows (crow’s feet and laugh lines clearly visible), but come on, 41 is absolutely not over the hill these days. But for a tiny tummy, she’s trim in a Jennifer Aniston kind of way.  She always was an above average actress and has maintained that standard. Point is, she can still wow you with her amazing screen presence and mind blowing dance moves. She is a legend for a reason.
Akashye and Irfaan deliver the awesome performances now expected of them. Konkona and Kunal Kapoor are natural and effortless, though Konkona seems to be selling herself short these days. It was a bit disconcerting for me to see Akshaye paired with Madhuri, but then, I have too much baggage, I am still in tune with the whole Dayavaan Kissa (pun intended). 
Now let’s examine the movie. Flimsy, frivolous and predictable plot? Very. Melodrama ? Certainly. Entertaining? Absolutely. All the ingredients for a good, clean, live it up masala fillum are there in dollops. Lots of music – if you felt the score was not as great as you would have liked, give it time, it will grow on you. The Aaja Nachle and Show Me Your Jalva numbers are catchy enough. Post intermission was dominated by the whole Laila Majnu theme with lots of dramatization, loud singing and much dancing, but frankly it was not too over the top. Quite palatable, actually. The comedy was dealt with well. There was even some refreshing realism. Madhuri does not play Laila just because she is Madhuri, she acts her age. The little girl who plays her daughter is as American as they come and does not spout chaste Hindi miraculously the minute she touches Indian shores. Divorce is not a dirty word and the absence of a full time ‘hero’ is not felt. What I loved (and I felt this in Laaga Chunri Mein Daag also) is the fact that we can now accept husky voiced divas such as Sunidhi Chauhan singing for the leading lady instead of just the  utterly feminine, high pitched and sometimes squeaky female playback singers we have been so used to up until now.
Any publicity is good publicity, so all that controversy about the racial undertone in the title track can only favor the cause. I can’t help thinking Mayawati wanted the movie banned for another reason- the whole mall building theme hit too close to home, maybe?
As Bollywood fare goes, what’s not to like, people? Let's face it, we are not some highly discerning, low-threshold-for-garbage, arty audience. If Om Shanti Om could gross what it did, if we were ok with swallowing the nonsense doled out to us in Fanaa, if Saawariya could even make it to the box office, we should have no problems watching and objectively enjoying Aaja Nachle. It’s no work of art, but hey, there’s dancing and there’s Madhuri. Ergo, Paisa Vasool. Take your kids, they’ll enjoy it.                

4 thoughts on “Aaja Nachle- What's not to like?

  1. Vidya

    The movie has already been termed a flop?? How can they make a decision like that based on just the opening? NO wonder movies like OSO and Saawariya put the publicity machine on overdrive to get that opening weekend sewn up.
    Maybe Aaja Nachle was not particularly original or brilliant. But I am sure it will find a steady family audience in the weeks to come. And if Yash Raj Films has any sense, it will quickly come out with the DVD – I suspect there are many people who are just waiting to watch it at home.

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  2. Geeta Padmanabhan

    Not to worry! The movie should do well after this controversy. Read this:
    Ho mohalle mein kaisi mara-maar hai, Bole mochi bhi khud ko sunaar hai. As Madhuri Dixit lip synced these lines, a controversy happened.

    It all started with Mayawati banning Aaja Nachle in Uttar Pradesh because of the slur against a particular caste (mochi). Even though she revoked the ban after Yashraj Films decided to say sorry and delete the offending lines, other states followed suit.

    “Thankfully the ban has been lifted in UP,” says the film’s director, Anil Mehta. “It was a bit of a logistic nightmare, but it is over now. We have decided to delete the line from the song. So, from all the prints of the movie across the country the editing was done,” he adds. But what is Mehta’s take on the bans?

    “Honestly, the movie is about the spirit of coming together. It is based in a small town and we never intended to hurt anyone. It is a filmmaker’s responsibility to take care of all this. And if such a thing happens, it should be rectified immediately, like we did,” signs off Anil.
    From Times of India. (All the papers splashed it.)

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  3. Renee

    I liked the movie (Aaja Nachle) very much and will be watching it again. I liked Laga Chunari Main Daag too and I can’t understand what is not to like about these movies. Do film critics and my co-inhabitants on earth live on a different plane? Is my brainwave different from theirs? Am I an Ant :-/ I am confused as to y 2 good movies should be a flop !

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