Tuesday, November 13, 2007

PARTNER - serviceable Hindi remake of HITCH

Girls like you see these macho stud-muffins, and go loopy over them... and leave simple-hearted and plain looking good guys like Bhaskar in the dust! And I help out these plain guys you can't be bothered with. I'm cupid, stupid!PARTNER is a loud, crass, unabashed Bollywood remake of the US Will Smith rom-com, HITCH. Directed and re-written by one of Bollywood's leading comedy directors, David Dhawan, the movie makes no concession to Westernised tastes or production values. This is old school Bollywood of the type since surpassed by movies such as KRRISH and OMKARA. It is entertaining in a sort of low mindless fashion and features a lot of popular dance tracks that ape a bizarre range of Western influences from hip-hop to salsa.

Salman Khan stars in the Will Smith role, playing a dating guru who helps losers win the women of their dreams. In his old age, Khan has become a pastiche of himself, bearing his be-muscled chest at every opportunity; constantly sporting stone-wash jeans c 1987 and wearing an ever more implausible set of hair pieces. Nonetheless, you can't help but admire the way in which he throws himself into one high octane dance number after another, wearing an ever higher quotient of sequins. The schmuck is played by Govinda - a Hindi comedy legend - and he is suitably goofy and sweet. He gets a far bigger role than in the US original. Indeed it takes forty minutes of the movie's two hour run-time for Salman Khan to agree to take his case. The object of Govinda's desire is played by Katrina Kaif, whose stilted English Hindi accent is a definite disadvantage in any movie in which she's meant to play a genuine Desi. Still, she's pretty enough to play the eye candy who falls for the loser with the kind heart. The Eva Mendes role goes to Lara Datta. In this version, instead of a reluctant feminist who's plotting against the dating guru, her character is a single mother, who needs to be convinced of Salman Khan's ability to be a father. Cue lots of standard Bollywood scenes with a cute munchkin.

Overall, the movie is not subtle but it does slide easily down the throat. The songs are classic Bollywood club hits - notably the Mambo No 5 rip-off, "Do U Wanna Partner" and the bhangra number, "Dupatta Tera Nau Rang Da". The only bit that went from "so naff it's amusing" to "so naff it's just naff" was the final scene in which the date doctor has to give the schmuck step by step instructions on his honeymoon night.

PARTNER went on global release in August 2007 and is now available on DVD.

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