Film Review: 'Happy Ending'
Opened: 21 November 2014
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Ileana D'Cruz, Ranvir Shorey, Kalki Koechlin, Govinda, Preity Zinta, Kareena Kapoor Khan
Directors: Raj Nidimoru, Krishna D.K.
Producers: Saif Ali Khan, Dinesh Vijan, Sunil Lulla
You know those films that show all their best bits in their trailers? They’re the worst offenders. It’s those ones that give you a false sense of promise by luring you in with a two minute chuckle inducing trailer; only to spectacularly let you down when you get round to seeing the finished product. Happy Ending is one such film that's guilty of not just that, but for also being a muddled, insipid mess that undoubtedly, must have sounded cracking and smart on paper, but turns out to be one that goes horribly awry in its execution.
In Happy Ending, Saif Ali Khan (reprising his role from countless films), plays Los Angeles based yuppie Yudi – a smug, cocky, skirt chasing Casanova who runs a mile every time a woman tries to corner him into committing.
Essentially an author living off the royalties of a book he wrote years ago, his extravagant, carefree life goes for a toss when a rookie novelist, the smart and sophisticated Aanchal (Ileana D’Cruz) bags a three book deal with his publishing company, leading to his subsequent ouster from the same.
With very little to his name, Yudi decides to rework his strategy by agreeing to pen a script for an egotistical, over the hill Bollywood superstar, Armaan (Govinda, stellar but woefully underutilised), and inadvertently sets off a series of events that make him reflect on the choices he’s made in the past. Matters get even more confusing (read convoluted), when he finds himself drawn to Aanchal, and caught up in dead end relationship with a persistent dentist (Kalki) who won't take no for an answer.
The biggest problem with Happy Ending is that it can’t decide on whether it wants to be a breezy romcom, a coming of age, quirky comedy or a satirical take on clichéd Bollywood films. Whatever its intent though, unfortunately, it fails on all three counts, and makes the grave mistake of becoming the very thing its trying to rip the piss out of – a mundane and predictable love story, that tires you out especially in its penultimate reels.
I have nothing against clichéd romcoms and neither do I have anything against Saif repeating an act he's done to death. He’s good at it and he can play it in his sleep and it works mostly, but here he looks completely disinterested, and ironically, seems to be having more of a blast playing Yudi's imaginary tubby, geeky alter ego Yogi, with whom we see him having random life defining exchanges with at various junctures in the plot. That said, you know there’s something really wrong with the film, if you’d rather it revolved around that crazy, out of the box, yet infectiously kooky character than a blah romance that's culmination you can see coming a mile off.
The rest of the actors too are saddled with such thankless parts, that you feel bad for them as they fumble around desperately trying to make the most of their ill defined characters. The women especially get the worst deal here. Despite looking gorgeous, Ileana D’Cruz is disappointing, and her chemistry with Saif too, is virtually non existent – a stronger female part might have made the goings on interesting, but sadly, Ileana doesn’t even try and rise to the occasion.
It’s almost insulting to see an actress of Kalki Koechlin’s caliber reduced to playing a Greta-esque (from The Gremlins) like dentist with an unhealthy affinity for Saif’s character. She deservers better and so does Kareena Kapoor Khan, who's cameo would perhaps have been slightly memorable, had we not known about it already. Preity Zinta, is, perhaps the film's biggest casualty, cast in an out of turn, lame cameo that’s supposed to make an impact, but instead makes us sad to see that this is a role that a once sought after A-lister has to make do with – that of a tired looking, whiney ex girlfriend, that virtually any unknown face could have played. Ranvir Shorey too is utterly useless (basically he’s this film’s Arshad Warsi – think Salaam Namaste), and don’t even get me started on how little there is of Govinda in this film. He brings the house down in the few scenes in, but guess what? We saw those bits in the trailer already.
Happy Ending has to be perhaps one of this year’s most wasted opportunities. It has eye popping locals, some great tunes, a few hysterically funny one liners, and yet, its evident that the film’s directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K. are completely out of their comfort zone in handling a script of this nature. Screwball comedies like Go Goa Gone are more their bag rather than the dull romance they've delivered here, and it’s a darned shame, especially given that they had some really clever ideas up their sleeve.
Like that massage that fires you up but doesn’t deliver on the "happy ending" it promised, the film is neither here nor there, and leaves you begging for more mainly because of its half baked script that tries to be smart and clever, but fails on both counts. A very disappointing two stars, and up there among this year’s biggest duds.