Review: Partner

Posted on July 21, 2007


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Powered by the Salman Khan-Govinda duo in good form, this madcap comedy chugs along merrily for the most part.

JULY 22, 2007 – SALMAN KHAN isn’t always the easiest of actors to watch, but given a certain kind of director (such as David Dhawan) and given a certain kind of movie (such as Partner), you cannot imagine anyone else carrying off moments such as the one in which he – all sad and alone after being dumped by his single-mom girlfriend – consoles himself with that most depression-proof of foods, ice cream. He’s seated in front of a photograph of the mother and son, and at some point, he extends to them a spoonful of what he’s digging into. “Sitaphal flavour,â€? he adds helpfully, as if that would make all the difference in their decision to step out of the frame and share his misery (along with his dessert). It’s such a cartoonish scenario, and Salman carries it off beautifully – possibly because, in an earlier scene, dressed in a canary yellow Tweety Bird T-shirt (with a cap to match) and bright orange track pants, he looks nothing so much as a cartoon himself. (And I mean this as a sincere compliment.) The only other leading man (okay, one-time leading man) capable of committing himself so completely to this kind of lunacy is, of course, Govinda – and the two of them have a high old time in this reworking of Hitch. Lara Dutta and Katrina Kaif (both looking terrific) are the supposed love interests, but let’s not kid ourselves here about the pairing that Partner is really about. It’s Salman Khan and Govinda.

Govinda plays Bhaskar, a “bewaqoofon ka brand ambassadorâ€? who falls head over heels for the heiress Priya (Katrina Kaif), who’s way out of his league, and Salman Khan’s aptly-named Prem is the love guru who helps Bhaskar get the girl. (Lara Dutta, meanwhile, is a gossip magazine columnist who attracts Prem’s attention, and it’s interesting to see who plays her boss: Tiku Talsania, who had exactly the same role when Aamir Khan played a tattle-tale reporter under him in Dil Hai Ki Maanta Nahin.) The setup is right out of Hitch, but for a while, Partner appears to be channelling What About Bob, as Bhaskar wears down a reluctant Prem by charming the rest of the latter’s family. All that charm finally works, and Prem and Bhaskar join hands in tune to a footstomping Sajid-Wajid number. (The songs seem to have been designed to burn up dance floors everywhere, and the way they are staged is sheer eye candy.) Then on, it’s high-grade low comedy all the way, especially with Sanjay Chhel’s dialogues making even the most sentimental of situations worthy of a wink and a smile. (“Dhoop mein uska chashma banoonga, baarish mein uska chhaata,â€? vows Bhaskar, as he expresses to his future father-in-law his intentions for Priya.)

After a longish dry spell, it’s good to see Dhawan back in some sort of form, even if parts of Partner work better than the whole and even if his material isn’t entirely original. The funniest bits are those that reflect the kind of rambling, free-association madness this director is so good at (and these portions have nothing to do with Hitch), like the scene featuring a very funny Aamir Khan impersonator or the other one where Salman, in front of airport security personnel, spoofs his much-documented fondness for taking his shirt off. (One out-of-nowhere tangent that doesn’t quite pay off is the angle featuring Rajpal Yadav as Chhota Don, a cricket-crazy Mini-Me of a gangster. He’s hilarious in a sight gag that has him hijacked by a speeding car, but he vanishes almost entirely during the second half.) But all that said, I couldn’t see why Partner had to be a remake of Hitch when it could just as easily have been a remake of Basu Chatterjee’s Chhoti Si Baat, which came along three entire decades earlier and showed us a mousy Amol Palekar falling for Vidya Sinha and having to be coached on the ways of romance by that marvellously crusty Ashok Kumar creation, Col. Julius Nagendranath Wilfred Singh. It’s practically the same story, except that Chhoti Si Baat detailed a middle-class Mumbai that doesn’t exist anymore, at least at the movies. Could that be why the folks behind Partner went all the way to Hollywood when inspiration was staring at them right there in their own backyard?

Copyright ©2007 The New Sunday Express

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi