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‘Happy Ending’… Weekend watch

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MUMBAI: Saif Ali Khan seems to be trying new ideas lately. His Go Goa Gone was a rare zombie movie on Indian screens. With Happy Ending, he tries something contemporary in theme and treatment. In other ways though, The hero is love proof; five affairs and he is still single because he refuses to or is not the kind to fall in love. No permanent commitments from him.  

There was a time when shooting a film abroad was a novelty and, sort of, made up for a weak script to an extent. That is to say, the visuals helped distract the viewer from the narrative. That fad died out. People soon realised that shooting abroad was generally not relevant to the film. Yet, Happy Ending is based in the US and still things remain the same. All major players are Indian and always the bosses, while the whites are mere extras.

Saif Ali Khan has written a book, Payback Time, which became a best seller. He is now a celebrity, loaded with cash, driving a convertible sports car and changing girlfriends frequently because he does not believe in love. He is living on his past glory and money. His best seller made him enough money to afford all of the above and his logic is, why work when I can enjoy life? However, he soon comes face to face with the fact of being, a one-book wonder. His money has run out and his car has been towed away for failing to pay instalments. It is over five years since his first and only best seller and cash as well as the glory have faded.

Producers: Dinesh Vijan, Saif Ali Khan, Sunil Lulla.

Directors: Raj Nidimoru, Krishna DK.

Cast: Govinda, Saif Ali Khan, Ileana D’Cruz. Kalki Koechlin, Ranvir Shorey, in guest roles, Priety Zinta and Kareena Kapoor. 

Saif’s problem doubles as he has also failed to live up to his commitment to deliver another manuscript to his publisher. To add to his misery his own agent has introduced another writer, Ileana D’Cruz, to the publishers who writes romantic mush which takes her to the top position. She is now a best seller.

Saif is an ‘I specialist’, which is to say that he is all about “I, Me and Myself”. He does not see beyond his own nose. His encounter with Ileana starts with envy followed by mental games until he realises that she herself knows she is selling pulp to people through her bestsellers. Broke to the core, Saif needs money urgently. He also needs his convertible back besides money for booze and affairs. To add to his troubles, he is stalked by his last girlfriend, Kalki Koechlin. He had broken up with her but she is still in love with him and plans to spend rest of her life with him. This break up is one-sided because Saif has not been able to convey his decision to Kalki.

This is when his agent convinces him to stoop a little and meet Govinda, a super star of single screens who wants to capture multiplex audience too, for which he needs a script. Saif is assigned to write it and he accepts it because, he is told, “Paise ka koi problem nahi.” The problem is, Saif is not a romedy writer which is what Govinda wants while Ileana specialises just in those! Also, another problem with Saif is that, he has written many manuscripts but never been able to complete any because he has never been able to find a happy ending. 

Saif has his alter ego to guide him, which is a version of Saif who is potbellied, unkempt and always hogging on some food or other. On his say so, Saif manages to date Ileana over the weekend and they become friends. Next, Saif accompanies her to her book reading and book-signing road trip to another city. Spending the night in the same room, after initial resistance, both agree to have sex on the condition that there would be no binding, no saying ‘I love you’ on either side. 

Predictably, love happens between them, which neither one of the two is willing to confess. It is time for Ileana to leave for India. Saif is uncomfortable but still refuses to believe he could fall in love. It takes some convincing from his ex, Preity Zinta, and his alter ego, the potbellied Saif, until he agrees to stop her before she boards her flight. His script with a happy ending is now ready for Govinda. 

Happy Ending is a fun film most of the time despite the pace dropping in the second half; some trimming could make it racy. The film’s mainstay is its visuals and dialogue. The dialogue are witty and peppy and worth a chuckle. Direction is generally good with some patchy moments. Music holds appeal in the film more than it did on audio tracks. Of the cast, Govinda excels as a caricature of a super star. Ranvir Shorey does very well despite a small role. Saif, in both his roles, is underplayed; a wise thing to do after the debacle of Humshakals. Ileana is fair. Kalki is okay.

Happy Ending caters mainly to high-end multiplex and metro crowd who can get its subtle humour, mostly thought up in English. A slow starter, Happy Ending is an ideal DVD watch.

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