By Subhash K Jha
Bra bra dekho… hazaar bra dekho… That's what one comes out singing after watching the grossly exaggerated severely under-dressed heroine of this aphrodisiacal yakkety-yak of a romantic comedy.
Seen in an arching arc the 3 recent films from Yashraj - HUM TUM, SALAAM NAMASTE and now NEAL 'N' NIKKI serve up a hefty but progressively nullified meal of mealy-mouthed young lovers who think it's urban to be immoral and cool to be unconventional.
NEAL 'N' NIKKI tries to define cool by throwing all caution and clothes to the winds. It's like a grung version of DILWALE DULHANIYA LE JAYENGE… or the popular American TV series FRIENDS meets Farhan Akhtar's DIL CHAHTA HAI in no man's bland.
The blend of American sitcom and desi glee is just not happening… not here at least. The film's leading man Uday Chopra not only sports an attitude straight out of FRIENDS he just doesn't know when the fun ends.
The film - if one may call it that - is one long fiesta of flirtatious encounters between the arranged-marriage victim Neal and a bevy of women he encounters. For company on his raunchy romp Neal has the whiny, sodden and thoroughly unlikable Nikki (Tanisha Mukherjee). Most of the time audiences are in the dark about her motivations… not surprising since she's either drunk or incoherent…or both.
When she sleeps with Neal (yup, pre-marital sex is here to stay in Yashraj films) she fights and separates with him because he asks her if she'd like a cuppa coffee the next morning. 20 minutes later she changes her mind when he comes home to finalize marriage with Nikki's cousin…drags him into her bedroom and threatens him.
Scratch scratch… no, that isn't the grating sound on the soundtrack, it's the audiences scratching their heads trying to figure out where this fish-or-fowl yarn is coming from, and going.
Sexually motivated? Perhaps the narration strove to equate youthful libido with humour. But there's a thin line between cool and stone cold. Director Arjun Sablok who revealed a precious sensitivity and aesthetic sense in his earlier film NA TUM JANO NA HUM, has completely missed bus... though not the bust.
He happily points his camera at every wannabe wet-dream queen's bosom. Alas after a while they all look the same. The wet-nurse effect lingers in embarrassing loops of libidinous extravagance aimed at achieving that tricky synthesis between skin and sensitivity.
Too bad NEAL 'N' NIKKI is more corny than horny. The prime characters are contenders for junior artistes' roles in FRIENDS rather than protagonists in Hindi films. And how Hindi is this film anyway? The lead pair is utterly out of sync with our cinema in both body and verbal language.
While the war of words between Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee or Saif Ali Khan and Preity Zinta in BUNTY AUR BABLI and SALAAM | NAMASTE worked due to the principal characters' abundant charm, here the young pair is utterly devoid of appeal, and covers up their mutual inadequacies in acres of borrowed bacchanalia.
The blessedly short (1 hr 40 min) narration is composed of a series of glamorous giggly gags. Most of them are singularly unfunny, others (like the whole spoof on filmy song-and-dance situations from films where Tanisha tries to get even with her unfaithful French lover) are so flat they seem like apologies for cinematic romance.
The ongoing series of amorous encounters of the thud kind culminates in a frenzied wedding-venue finale that's meant to squeeze a tear out of us.
Alas, despite the noisy hustling soundtrack and an incessantly chattering lead pair who look and behave like subverted punky versions of Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in DILWALE DULHANIYA LE JAYENGE, the lengthy narration induces more of a snore than a sniff.
Coming from the distinguished Yashraj banner what do we make of the lead pair's alley-cat morals? The guy wants to sleep with as many girls as he can before marriage. The girl helps him with the emission… sorry, mission. The gallery of women who parade their stuff range from the strange to the downright tartish.
And we thought cheesiness was only for the desperate!