ugh: Neal n Nikki

There are many things I love in this world, and Bollywood and Canada are at the top of the list. So it was with trepidation that I rented Neal n Nikki (it pains me to spell it like that, just so you know), because I knew that if anything could make me cranky at a Bollywood movie, it would be messing up a portrayal of my adopted home. And sure enough, they did it wrong. Nothing too heinous, but enough little things to make me feel like the filmmaker hadn't read up. For example, during the water volleyball game, Nikki's ex's girlfriend is wearing a bikini printed with an American flag. No Canadian would ever do this (right, Rachel?). (And I think we have to assume she is Canadian, because we're in British Columbia and her nationality isn't given). Overall, the idea of BC as a hedonistic playground full of girls in bikinis is just hilarious to me. I mean this with all respect and affection for BC; while I have never been there, this does not at all fit with the stories I've been told by multiple friends from there.

Don't get me wrong: I have met some skanky Canadians, and as a general rule this is a country that knows how to enjoy a few beers. But, writer/director, you just can't trash up a country just because your story is morally bankrupt. You can't just strip a place of its character to play into one audience segment's notions about "the west." No one messes with Canada on my watch!

And speaking of which, I was amused to discover that said writer/director is also the writer/director behind Na Tum Jaano Na Hum, which also featured the classic "looking at a car from the outside, you see a woman suddenly pop into view, and she can only have come from the man's lap" gag.

Both protagonists are grating - he's a smug skank, she's a whiny flake - and make stupid choices. And the dialogue and plot just try so hard to be saucy, innuendo-laden. The whole thing is completely belabored and fails quickly underneath its own effort. I thought Uday and Tanisha did okay with what they were given, although she was a bit squeaky. This would have been even worse in the hands of, say, Kareena.

I will say, though, that for once the inclusion of cheerleaders made sense. I am completely baffled by the ubiquitous Bollywood cheerleaders. Do colleges (heck, even high schools) in India have cheerleaders with pompoms? This the kind of hard-hitting intercultural investigation I'll be undertaking this summer.

I also really liked that there was a big pretty dance scene in a barn. That's just about my ideal event right there. Bollywood + barn dance = happy, happy Beth.

Update to post (April 24, 2006:) Thanks to Azuregoddess, I now know that the writer/director is from Canada. So he definitely knows it better than I do. But I still maintain he did Canada wrong. I know I may have very little to stand on here, but it's a feeling I just can't shake. I think Azuregoddess is completely right when she says he seems to be reimagining his own homeland. Which I guess is his perogative. But his version is bizarro Canada, that's for sure.

Update to post (April 30, 2006): When I returned this DVD today, the nice man who is always working at the store when I drop by said "It was bad, wasn't it?" I agreed, and I told him I would spread the word about its badness. He said, "No no, I'll lose business that way! [The advice] was just for special friends." I'm a special friend! I love Bollywood.


illusory motion said…
The writer/director was born and brought up in Vancouver and still spends half his time there. Go figure! Maybe that's what he would like his birth country to be: Women hiking in padded bras, girls not knowing the difference between underwear and outer clothes,and loving their wonder-bra enhanced breasts to be climbing up to their faces etc...
He also happens to be Aditya Chopra's cousin(which is why he has a three film deal with YRF) and a bit(!) sex-obsessed. Check out Tata Young's version of "Dhoom Machale" that plays in the closing credits of Dhoom. The video was directed by Arjun and You'll know what I mean.
It was the first flop in recent years for YRF. Maybe it had something to do with Uday wearing eye-liner and coloured lip-gloss. India isn't ready to accept a love relationship between a drag queen and a girl just yet. Maybe in a few years...
And as for cheerleaders - such thing in Indian colleges and highschool.
A TV channel called Zee recently started a cheerleading squad known as the ZEE-Bras for their football (soccer to you) telecasts.
Here's a link. check them out:)
Look for the images of the girls in black and white!
t-HYPE said…
Somehow I don't think I'll see this movie unless there's money involved...

Actually Beth, your review was quiten a bit less harsh than the one Ms. World posted after seeing the film when she was in India. You can read it here:
Anonymous said…
No Canadian would wear the American flag across her chest except for my insane best friend, that is! She has a bikini or bra like that, I've seen it in her house. =D She sort of idolizes the states for some inexplicable reason (I mean, as opposed to some other things one could idolize). This film sounds like one my teenaged male cousins would like to watch. No need even for sound! I don't think I'll be watching it...I'll be on the lookout for things with a little more depth...or at least happy fluff and beautiful dancing. ;)

- Rachel in Nova Scotia
Anonymous said…
Neil and Nikki is just one of those low level films protraying non-resident-indians awe for pop, fasion etc

Bollywood Actress
Anonymous said…
Hi Beth

Had I been in the grocery store when u were picking up Neal N Nikki, I would have definitely been rude neough to butt in and dissuade you from borrowing it.

I never was interested in watching it mainly coz of the actors and so never bothered to borrow it from the local store. I am glad my instincts were right.

I hope you get to see some good movies to compensate for this lousy one.

As the indian media had dubbed it, it was a Yash Raj Skin Flick that badly went wrong.


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