Directed by: Anees Bazmee
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol, Sunil Shetty, Irfaan Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Celina Jaitley, Rimi Sen
WARNING: Contains spoilers but film is so awful you may wish to know what happens and then decide if you actually want to watch it if you have not seen it already!
All pictures courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com
There are some films which are designed to test even the most faithful Bollywood fan. Right from the outset, one doesn’t even have to see a single frame of the film to know it is going be an absolute mess (not even a hot mess!) and not to waste three hours actually watching it (well, two and a half really but this felt long and not in a good way!) Still, there always is a smidgen of hope that the film might not be as bad as it first appears, that there will be a clever subtext or commentary that will make this film appeal across the board and prove a cynic wrong. So, ignoring that inner instinct that suggested giving this one a miss (just in case it turned out to be quite good), I made my way with caution to see Thank You.
It really was an act of faith going to see Thank You – with mindless comedies being my pet hate and having issues with Akshay Kumar (in summary: I championed him after Singh Is Kingg – he ruined my first ever red carpet premiere with a crap film and then ruined my 100th blog post with a rubbish film, so Akshay owes me – BIG TIME!) I wasn’t too keen on the songs either – Razia had not been playing non stop in my head a la Munni and Pyaar Lo was a poor update, especially in the face of the Dum Maaro Dum update (which sounds far superior and the trailer looked quite hot too). Still, I was partially reassured by the presence of Irfaan Khan in the film – even if he was phoning it in and picking up a healthy remuneration for the film, there had to be SOME quality control to the film, right? Wrong.
Thank You revolves around a married couple – Raj (Deol) and Sanjana (Kapoor). Raj hides his womanising ways from his wife who is totally besotted by him and indulges in general merriment with his friends Yogi (Shetty) and Vikram (Khan) who also cheat on their wives as they please. Enter Kishan (Kumar) a flute playing private detective who catches philandering romeos in the act and helps rehabilitate the ungrateful men into honest husbands. Has he met his match when pitted against Raj, Yogi and Vikram? More importantly, does anyone with a brain cell who has stayed to witness the carnage even care?
Thank You is a terrible film. Normally, I wouldn’t deliver such a damning verdict on a film but Thank You really angered me. It was almost as if Anees Bazmee has taken all the leftovers of his previous films, shoved them together into a microwave and then served them to the audience as if it were a freshly cooked meal. And my expectations were not even that great from this film – I knew we weren’t in for a subtle look at married couples and why they indulge in infidelity with a layer of comedy to hide the social commentary. But one thing I do expect, even from a mindless comedy is some simple entertainment. At least one scene where I would laugh and wish the rest of the film was of the same vein of that moment. But instead, like an aunty stuck at a sub standard wedding, I barely cracked a smile. Despite being technically slick (note the opening credits, the aerial shots and the alarming number of long takes – though it must be added that these don’t do Thank You any favours!), the script, characters and performers are all sadly lagging far behind.
I really couldn’t get over the appalling depiction of women in the film – whether it was the married women shown as pushovers whose husbands cheat on them and treat them in the most appalling manner (which the women accept and even validate) or the objectification of women where they are seen only as sex objects or servants or worse still, the very obvious double standard where all the Indian women are modestly dressed whilst every non Asian woman is dressed in a bikini or low cut top or skirts with hems so high they may as well be belts or bikini bottoms, constantly grinding against the male actors in every scene (go figure). I’m not saying this film should be an advert for feminism but there needs to be some balance shown, with a well written female character with dignity, which could easily be worked into the film and convey an important lesson to certain sections of the audience who feel all out chauvinism is acceptable. In fact, the overt sexuality in Thank You (I lost count of the number of upskirt shots – and the boys aren’t spared either with some unfortunate up the bathing robe shots too…) makes it feel seedy and tacky – much like receiving unwarranted attention in a nightclub from an undesirable admirer….
Styling wise, there are few standout moments with the high fashion feeling very out of place with the low brow tone of the film. I liked Sonam’s Herve Leger style pearl sequin dress in the Razia song (though I was not impressed by Mallika Sherwat’s Lady Gaga inspired costume – a criminal waste in every sense!) and thought Celina Jaitley rocked all her saris with aplomb, in particular her deep maroon sari at the end of the film. I also thought Sonam’s phulkari dupatta in her shaadi ka jodha was a nice touch and it seems both Sonam and Anushka Sharma are making phulkari a signature trademark in their onscreen wardrobes. As for the guys, despite what I feel about his acting, Akshay does know how to give good trench and works his black/navy trench coat well, though the leather belt is a tacky addition. I also liked his skinny beige chinos and his Americana t-shirt worn with a black blazer which all gave nods to current trends but were totally swamped by the awfulness of the film.
In terms of performance, Irfaan Khan does indeed phone it in, desperately searching for some sort of depth and hitting it by accident – in fact, his mean husband act comes off quite well and actually strikes a note of reality; not only did he remind me of someone I know but the couple behind me also remarked they were reminded of their brother in law. Irfaan has brilliant comic timing and delivers his lines with panache, taking credit for many of my barely there smiles. Rimi Sen really surprised me, stepping up her game when with Irfaan and actually putting in a suitable counter performance to Irfaan, playing his wife with surprising subtlety and nuance. I felt Celina Jaitley was totally wasted and really needs to stay away from this kind of film, though she plays her small role with a charming honesty. Bobby Deol and Suneil Shetty seem to be enjoying a paid holiday at the audiences expense, with the former jetlagged beyond belief and the latter method acting and actually coming across a drunken loser – not their finest hour.
Unfortunately, Sonam also turns in a terrible performance – none of her scenes really seemed to click, she was often overwhelmed by the rest of the cast in ensemble scenes and even as a clothes horse, she fails, with the high fashion gimmick overtaking her performance. I actually thought that Thank You was crying out for a Deepika or Katrina who can do this role in their sleep and something like that does not bode well for Sonam who is nowhere near the premiere league of actresses like Kareena and Priyanka. Finally, we come to Akshay, who is desperately in need of a career intervention and a restraining order, preventing him from going anywhere near films like this again. Akshay faithfully does as he is told and is given the author backed role, yet his performance really irritated me – there is no concerted effort to differentiate this role from the glut of similar roles that he has done and though the script and direction are lacking, this time, I felt even Akshay had given up – the energy and spirit seen in his dream run of films like Namaste London and Bhool Bhulaiya is nowhere to be seen and as a result, Thank You has no backbone or life to it. With the exception of Irfaan, the entire cast is put to shame by Vidya Balan in her cameo (in a ridiculous attempt to add a back story to Kishen’s character) where she injects more nuance and class in a few frames than the rest of the film put together.
Furthermore, Akshay completes a hat-trick of grievances against me; not content with ruining my first red carpet premiere and my 100th blog post, now he is part of the reason that causes me to dismiss a film entirely on my blog (which I have tried so hard not to do, despite some real turkeys!). Thanks Akshay – I can’t wait to see what you have in store for me next…
Thank You is exactly the kind of regressive cinema that Hindi cinema does not need. Yes, we should have entertaining films and not every film needs to be a masterpiece – but at the same time, even films which set out to entertain need to have logic and some sort of intelligence – after all, if the viewer is not respected, how can the makers expect an audience to respect the film? The only positive that could be gleaned from this (what was I saying about glimmers of hope?!) is that Thank You might just be the swansong for this type of film. Whilst these films might have been a trend at one point, it seems this trend is ready to be put to rest, to be revived and reinvented at a later date. This year alone, with films like Yamla Pagla Deewana doing this kind of entertainment ten times better and at the other end of the spectrum, No One Killed Jessica and Dhobi Ghat being worthy films, there really is no space for a film like Thank You in the current climate.
So, if you haven’t guessed already, I wouldn’t recommend this film to watch on any medium. I normally try to be as positive about a film as I can but I really can’t with this one. The only circumstance I can think of for seeing this film is if you live in a very hot country and need to escape the midday sun in a cool air conditioned cinema and have text messages to send, snacks to consume and time to pass (all cardinal sins in cinema but when a film is this bad, you have to treat it the way it treats you). So, Thank You? No thanks!!!!