Film Review – Saif Ali Khan's 'Happy Ending' takes on Bollywood cliches and ends up as one itself

Happy_Ending_2014_Hindi_film_posterWhen the Shor in the City directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK come together again, you can be assured that their film will not be mindlessly Bollywood-ish. They have always tried to side-step clichés, even with the rather forgettable Go Goa Gone, and naturally, Happy Ending comes with a good bag of expectations.

While at two-and-a-half hours long, the film does lag, Happy Ending has several genuinely funny moments. By taking on every formula of Bollywood and laughing at it, it tries to be for the ‘mass and the class.’

But sadly, other than laughing at Bollywood, Happy Ending offers nothing new at all. It takes on the clichés and ends up as the biggest cliché in itself. If that is deliberate, well, you can only say that the writer-directors sure know how to take the audiences for granted.

Yet, if you are up for breezy, detached fun where you neither connect with the characters nor really care about the storyline, Happy Ending could be a safe choice. The feeling you get after watching it is best described as ‘neutral.’ It neither touches you nor makes you cringe. It is the perfect also-ran of the season, a project that had tried to set the bar high and falls short.

On the pluses, Happy Ending has Saif Ali Khan getting under the skin of the character. He doesn’t look the dashing ‘stud’ as he claims to be; he looks a trifle old, a bit haggard and even grumpy, if you may. All traits that best suit the role he plays – that of Yudi, once a best-selling author, now struggling to find words.

As the Romeo who hates commitment, he is drawn into the world of Anchala Reddy (Ileana D’Cruz) also because he must write a ‘romedy’ for ageing superstar Armaan (Govinda), and Anchala writes syrupy, mushy pulp like nobody’s business. Meanwhile, he must also ward off the advances of Vaisakha (Kalki Koechlin), go drinking with his buddy Mantu (Ranvir Shorey) and find true comfort of companionship in his former-flame Divya (Preity Zinta).

Across all plot-points, the directors remind us that they are up to a big spoof on Bollywood. That intelligent approach to another lame romance is the only differentiating strength of the movie. And how they mock! From the superstar obsession for six-packs to inadvertent references to Kal Ho Naa Ho, the writers tell us that they are avid Bollywood buffs.

So if they had such intelligence and wit in mocking Bollywood, why then did they follow the same dreaded path? That is the failing of Happy Ending. Despite the best efforts, the film simply conforms to what you already know and expect. Reminding us that the directors know we will expect the scenes doesn’t really help other than make them look pretentious.

With an overdose of Saif, including as the alter-ego of Yudi, relief comes big time from Govinda. He shines through by taking on Bollywood superstar egos and comes up with some effortless humour. Also rising above the script is Ranvir Shorey. Kalki is rightly irritating – as her character demands – and Ileana exudes charm.

Happy Ending is not a bad movie; it is just a film that didn’t find its identity despite the tremendous potential of its raw material. Often stretched, sometimes illogical and never having any real depth, Happy Ending ends happy and well but leaves you deprived.

Rating: 2/5

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