Friday, January 2, 2015

Movie Review: Holiday

Nothing is more entertaining than unintentional hilarity. The amount of fun you can have with something unintentionally funny is way more than what you get in an intentional comedy. If you don’t believe me check out Prakash Raj in Heropanti, or Dilip Tahil in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. The protagonist from Satya 2 was a nuclear explosion of hilarity and made that movie super entertaining. So the question is not exactly how good is Akshay Kumar’s comedy-action-thriller Holiday, but how did they achieve such a high order of unintentional hilarity?

The answer to that question can be found in the filmmaking genius of AR Murugadoss. His approach to cinema is fascinating – there is no point in making a straightforward good movie, because that process does not have any mojo. We’re better off with the questionable magic of Murugadoss’ imagination that enables us to enjoy a movie in which Sonakshi Sinha slaps her father routinely and Govinda plays an athletic senior Army commando.     

For those fortunate enough to have somehow missed the original Tamil film Thupakki, here's some information on the plot details of Holiday – Akshay Kumar plays Akshay Kumar in an Army uniform. Like Murugadoss himself, his character likes to think differently, because what’s the fun in having logic in life. Logic is boring. So when Army Kumar witnesses a terrorist attack in Bombay, he devices a stupendous plan to catch the ‘sleeper cells’ responsible for desecrating the city. He does this by kidnapping goons from police custody, placing them in his cupboard for days, making them escape his house and following them secretly when they escape. Of course interrogating them straightway is not an option, because as I said there’s no fun in logic. And by ‘following the goons secretly’, I mean dressing up his friends in suits, going to a wedding, getting incriminating pictures taken, jumping aboard a huge white van that stands out in the crowd and shooting the goons in public. I imagine Army Kumar’s character points to his own nose by twirling his hand around the back of his head.

But that’s not all. Our villain (played by a hilariously vacant, completely out of place and frightfully untalented Freddy Daruwala) actually one-ups Army Kumar’s plan by applying detective skills that would make Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot slit each others throats, hold hands and jump off a cliff. He pinpoints the identity of Army Kumar by linking the data of ‘an unknown man in a suit’ to the one single man in the precise marriage hall in the whole of Bombay. This is comedy gold.

In case you’re worried about whether the whole film is utterly out-of-the-box, don’t worry, Murugadoss has got you covered. He sprinkles a generous helping of regressive material into the film for the benefit of our female audience members. He reminds us through Sonakshi’s character that women should make fun of bald men and worship good looking men like Gods. He reminds us through Army Kumar’s character that letching over women in public is cute and romantic. From the black hole sucking you towards the past, Murugadoss rubber bands towards the future as well, making a statement for the modern Indian young woman: it is so adorable and funny when a bratty girl treats her parents like her doormat. Try to stifle a giggle when Sumeet Raghavan delivers a heartfelt monologue on how the Army protects our citizens, or when Army Kumar is forced to unspool a litany of fill-in-the-blanks exposition about the Army facing terrorist infiltration. Enjoy those Aflatoon style convenient cars parked for the hero to escape in, the howlarious futuristic computer UI used by ‘hi-tech terrorists’, the gigantic plot holes through which Matthew McConaughey will travel in Interstellar, and a finale that feels as if it was scripted by a baboon. Ultimately, Murugadoss makes you wonder if you should be making a movie simply because you’re allowed to make a movie.

(First published in Firstpost)

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