Maybe my powers of suspending disbelief are just wiped out after my weekend viewing of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Gosh This Movie Was Such a Letdown (but Not Because of Harrison Ford, Let's Be Perfectly Clear about That) and Oh My God Could You Believe That Ridiculous Vine-Swinging Bit?, but most of Aaja Nachle just did not work for me. As Filmi Geek says, it shies away from taking a stance on some ideas that it teases us with - what it means to be a member of a community, what is the relationship between hometown and exile, what the role of art is in contemporary economic conditions - and I kept wanting it to do more with that kind of content than it did. Like in Indiana Jones, I kept saying "Really?" at the screen, not sarcastically à la Seth and Amy but with genuine disappointed surprise. We have to make the feisty, strong woman tone down her personality
and conventionalize her appearance and behavior
in order to get her man?
Really? He can't just love her for who and how she is? Sigh. We're going to ask the woman who really wants to be in the show to step aside so her bullying, dishrag husband can be in it instead? Really? Can't they just both be in the show? You panic about having only 30 days to put on the big show, but then the finished product has at least seven different elaborate sets, a zillion backup artists, and a last-minute actor substitution that goes flawlessly?
Really? Any group that can pull all this together clearly has the heart for art. So what were you all fretting about, exactly?
Here's what I liked. The supporting cast was really fun, and I was warmed by the shy and overlooked people finding...their inner Madhuri, their guts, their joy.
They were all sweet and compelling, and I was so glad both the characters and actors got to shine. The title's invitation to dance is extended within the movie, which I thought was a really nice touch. The generosity of the spotlight on the supporting cast, particularly during the big show, is a delight. Much to its credit, the story is more well-rounded than I thought it would be.
Oh my gosh, wasn't he great?
Akshaye's MP is a small but rich character and he seems to have fun with it, filling it with spark but not going overboard. He gets a lot of the best lines and the most reasonable (if not entirely sympathetic) outlook, resisting corruption, giving people a chance, and emphasizing the role of the community in the issue at stake. Despite the juicy "I'm the bad guy" scene, he really isn't.
Last but not least, the big show is visually and emotionally fantastic. I loved every second of the unrealistically but satisfyingly slick production, and I teared up a little at the fate of Laila and Manju. The device of a play showcasing its participants' unknown but real selves hits all the right notes with me - who wouldn't want a rare chance to shine and to be rewarded with people loving you more? And dancing in the streets! Spoon, please! I have some heart-warming, glittery syrup to eat up! Oh geeze, now I'm all worked up. The end is great; the rest, not so much. Good thing the end is what it ends with, if you know what I mean.