This is not one of those posts which should be considered to be written by yet another fanboy. Rather this is a devotee writing about his Goddess. Madhuri or Madz as she would like her to be called (I guess), mother of two, aged 40, but still sizzles in her truest form. And I do not care if all those critics fail to recognize it. Probably they should get their lenses checked, or perhaps change their retinas. But that is one thing and we are here to talk about Aaja Nachle,the movie by ace cinematographer Anil Mehta. We have seen Mr. Mehta’s works as a cinematographer in many Yashraj flicks and he has captured some of the most breathtaking scenes on the Indian 70 mm. Be it the utterly urban Manhattan of Kal Ho Na Ho, or the rustic rural Bhuj as Lagaan’s Champaner, or the picturesque Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Mr. Mehta’s artwork needs no introduction. Having said that, Aaja Nach Le ,is also spell bounding as far as the visuals are considered. But here lies the problem. It is too unreal. Of course, what else can we expect from a story by Aditya Chopra which just too fits the Yashraj run-of-the-mill mould.So you say, that well, movies are meant to be unreal, portraying a make-believe world so to say. But then, why did it take off on the real note?The problem is that we have to assume so many things that you lose count. I started doing it just for Madhuri(but of course), but I ended up getting tired. So I said to myself, well, screw it, let’s just enjoy this as a mindless dance joyride, and I started to enjoy it more after that.
For all those curious ones, the story is about a rebellious Dancer (shockingly!) called Diya who leaves her hometown Shamli when she is forced to get married and flies off to NY and becomes an established choreographer. She returns back hearing of her Dance master’s illness and discovers that the stage where her dance was nurtured faces a demolition notice. Enter the MP(Akshaye Khanna) who challenges her that if she wants to prevent the demolition, she better put up a show with the entire cast from Shamli itself. Hence, the search begins for the characters and they all fit the part to the T. The cast of course has to be as mad and varied as it could be which reminds me of yet another “cast”ing movie which told a story of “Once Upon a Time in India”( It’s Lagaan you fools. Kuch nahi ho sakta tum morons ka). The audition scene just looks like a rip off from the RDB audition scene and well, I loved the original. Here, it is pretty much forgettable. Where’s Prasoon Joshi? The ensemble jigsaw starts to take shape with the entry of some colorful characters like Ranbir Shourie, Vinay Pathak, Konkona Sen, Sushmita Chatterjee( of Karamchand fame) and of course the unputdownable Raghubir Yadav. But yet again, another assumption strikes me .The title track( yeah, the one in the news for the wrong reasons) features blue chandeliers ( Mr. Mehta has a thing for them, including breaking them in ultra slo-mo), and blue screens and absolutely gorgeous sets put up in a course of a day. Am I questioning the power of Bollywood?
Moving on, of course the entire ensemble goes through a lot of other worries, as in fitting the chemistry between the lead pair, the dance training, the corrupt MP( Akhilendra Mishra, better known as Krur Singh ‘Yakku’ from Chandrakanta), the greedy businessman (Irrfan Khan) and the challenging MP who loves Pizzas apparently.But somehow, Madz manages to swoop in and put up a brilliant show, even when Laila’s Abba is picked up just minutes before the final show ( not even the final rehearsal and all). And OMFG, the final show is so perfectly lyrical, the music is top-notch, no one forgot their lines, everyone danced in sync( hey, where did these toned bodies with the 6 packs come from? ) and my oh my, the choreography and the lights blend and flow like the satin that hangs from Laila’s window. Who handled all of that? But of course, Madhuri, I mean Diya. She must have grown so much as a choreographer. If you can do with all of the above assumptions, (I did, partially) you’ll end up grooving to Aaja Nachle. And I think everyone in my auditorium resonated with that groove.
Talking about the soundtrack, the movie begins with Dance with Me, which instantly took me to Dil to Pagal Hai and the familiar Shiamak Davar danceroom. Only that,its Vaibhavi Merchant here who’s giving the cues. The intro song just makes the point that Madhuri cannot just only dance, but dance far better than anyone out there. A straight challenge. A few minutes later, she is dancing Kathak with her Ghungroos on to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s O Re Piya. This song is my favorite and well, I loved the Ghungroo sounds added to it (which is absent in the OST). The tile track Aaja Nach Le is just a forgettable number which you’d be repeatedly hearing on radios and Puja Pandals this year, because of the utterly predictable Bollywood spiced up sound in it. Nothing remarkable,except for the yummy choreography and Madhuri dancing to it.BTW, the so called “controversial” lyrics reported goes something like:-
Mohale mein kaise mara mar hai,
Bole mochi bhi khud ko sonar hai
( There is so much chaos in the society, Even the Cobbler calls himslef a Goldsmith). I really don’t get what is the fuss about. Moving on,the cast audition song Show me Your Jalwa is a typical Nautanki flavored song with the voices of Madhuri herself doing the narration and Richa Sharma and Kailash Kher displaying the power of their lungs with the powerful rendition of “Zamane ko Bida Kar De..” .Soniye Mil Jaa shows you Vinay Pathak can dance as well and he is hilarious and as usual Sukhwinder Singh does the job perfectly. The Laila Majnu sequence song “Koi Patthar se naa Mare” is just an add to the soundtrack because the musical needs it, but doesn’t add to the quality. Is Pal and Ishq Hua are both duets by Sonu Nigam and Shreya Ghosal which can be effectively recycled across any Yashraj flick. Not meaning that the songs were any bad, but well, weren’t integral or great either, and somehow I can’t remember which one was which.
The performances from the ensemble characters could have been much better, but it is too much to expect, is it? Konkona Sen is an actor of a different league and she didn’t do justice to her caliber. Kunal Kapoor looks and plays the stud he is, but well, that’s it. The love chemistry between the play’s lead pair, just didn’t work for me. Vinay Pathak as usual, brings the 9 inch smile whenever he gets the screentime, and Ranbir Shourie as Mohan,CEO of Mohan Hotel is perfect as the real Majnu/Devdas. Akshaye Khanna’s role is just limited to a few conversations but somehow he manages to pull it off. Divya Dutta and Irrfan Khan have again put up roles shorter than what deserves their potential, and still managed to shine. Raghuvir Yadav, love his unchoreographed dance and unscripted acting. But of course the movie belongs to Madhuri.
Madhuri sizzles and takes control of the entire movie and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that everybody else was just a member of a supporting cast. She can shake that leg far better than any actress we have today (I know I’m repeating myself over and over again), she can act better than any actress today, and well, she looks as pretty as ever. True that the role has been written keeping her in mind. Beat this! An uncle, probably in his 60s, says while he walks out of the theatre “15 saal pehle Dhak Dhak ki Dhadkan abhi tak nahi gayee” (I saw her Dhak Dhak 15 years ago, and I still feel the pulse).
While I’d give this movie 2 stars out of 5, add another one coz a Star is already there. Madhuri did “Show her Jalwa”.