"I know I have my moments of slumming it, but why am I in this movie?"
"Why am I playing myself in this movie, lending my star power and gravitas to this piece of crap? Didn't I have anything better to do?
And why did I start doing the black hair white beard thing? I look just fine like this, here at Parents' Day, about to listen to two very annoying movie children in a song so schmaltzy Beth will FF through it."
"Why are we in this movie?"
Why is anyone in this movie? It's so stupid. Its message - or plot points, if you prefer not to give it credit for having a message - is that cheated-on spouses should use whatever means necessary to win back their wayward partners and then forgive them. Children, other relatives, sex appeal, and business profit can all be used to try to woo your husband back from a money-grubbing model. While there may be situations in real life in which forgiveness may be a good idea, it's a different story when actions, motives, and emotions are as broad as in Biwi No. 1. Only a brain-dead dishrag would take this jerk back. Brain-dead dishrag and jerk? Coming right up!
They do the kinds of thing you expect them to do in late 1990s movies. Neither is exceptional in any way, and they have nothing to work with. Sushmita Sen inexplicably won four awards for her performance here, but I don't have anything nice to say about her either. The rest of the cast, though...poor things. At least Tiger, the family dog, is on hand to help, preventing Sushmita from completing her Karva Chauth rituals for the philandering Salman.
Way to go, Tiger! Way to behave better than any of your human owners!
Before I started watching Bollywood, I discovered that no movie (or book or tv show) was a complete waste of time if it gave you a quotable quote. Now I've expanded that a bit to include singable song or danceable dance, and Biwi No. 1 is saved from the dustbin of "avoid, yaar!" by three songs. First, "Chunari Chunari," which I already knew and loved from Monsoon Wedding. Second, there's "Mehboob Mere," a fun-sounding song in which Tabu and Anil dance around Switzerland with a fleet of backup dancers in a variety of folkloric regalia, winter gloves and boots, and weird 90s fashions.
And finally, "Hai Hai Mirchi," which I cannot for the life of me explain why I like. Among the clapping and shouting, Karisma is dressed to kill, phasers set on still-straying Salman, and Anil is dressed like this.
The first is better in Monsoon Wedding, and if the latter two were online anywhere, I'd say don't even bother with the movie.
But you know what? I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. I did. I enjoyed laughing at the stagy 90s gear. I enjoyed being outraged at the insulting implications about what wives should suffer through for horrible husbands. I enjoyed Tabu, Anil, and Saif trying to make the best of muck. I enjoyed Amitabh in his cameo mired in paterfamilias celebrity. I enjoyed the whole movie with a smug sense of knowing full well how crappy it would be and being proven correct. Maybe I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoy fashion magazines - laugh-and-point brain candy. It's good to feel smarter than fictional characters in made-up, broadly drawn stories, isn't it? Yeah!