Happy New Year makes no bones about being a full on entertainer and more power to it for that quality – with the irreverent and unique humour that Farah Khan’s films have in abundance, HNY makes us laugh, cry and smile through the proceedings. What I felt was missing here was any kind of innovation with that humour – aside from the odd flash of brilliance (a throwaway line here or slapstick joke there) there is a lot of telling and showing as opposed to just the latter on its own. The film also feels far too long, especially in the second half which could easily be trimmed down to give the story better shape and tone.
Having said that, HNY does have some great moments; I thought the songs were fun and the ensemble have a fantastic energy together which forms the USP of the film. I also thought there were some good ideas that were lost in the melee which would have been interesting to develop further – namely probing an Indian state of mind where there is a very strong sense of national pride that is juxtaposed with a very critical outlook and intense scrutiny of any representation of the Indian identity on a public platform. This tied in with the winners and losers theme nicely and I wish it had been explored further.
The cast look like they are having a lot of fun and everyone gives a good account of themselves. For me, it was Padukone, Sood and Irani who stood out with the former two underplaying and Irani overplaying but it is only because Khan, Bachchan and Shah also play their respective parts so well that the entire ensemble hit their mark. Shroff seems to sleepwalk his way through the role of the villain but then when Charlie and co are so interesting, it makes sense to keep the rest of the characters on a lower frequency.
Happy New Year is the perfect Diwali film – the only requirement is really to turn up and just go with the flow. I could imagine in a crowded cinema hall with lots of cheering and applause, there would be a constant dialogue between the film and the audience where certain lines and motifs would have the viewer entertained. A shame then that there was nothing unexpected to be found here but perhaps keeping any kind of expectation when watching HNY puts one in the wrong frame of mind – suspend disbelief, don’t question too much and just enjoy it for what it is and you’ll be on the winning team. A fun “festival” film.