Aaja Nachle – a movie review
‘Aaja Nachle’ (Come, let’s Dance) is a happy, feel-good film, the way I like films to be. And it’s not boring, not at all, and this leaves me a bit puzzled as to what most reviewers are talking about. Lack-lustre? Oh no, not even in parts. Average music? No, I would say above average. Predictable story-line? Well, this sure isn’t a suspense thriller!
Madhuri Dixit as Dia is riveting, with her sex-appeal of yore intact. In fact, it’s right in your face. Madhuri may be 40 and a mother of two kids but she can still break hearts.
The story is a simple one. Young Dia (Madhuri Dixit), a dancer, elopes from the small town of Shamli (looks more like a village), leaving her reputation in shreds. The story opens at a point when Dia, a well established dancer and choreographer in New York decides to come back (with her daughter who is a tween) and do the very thing that had got her into trouble in the first place…dance. Not just dance, but revive the tradition of theatre and dance in Shamli, because as she tells Raja, the M.P. of the area (Akshaye Khanna), it’s not just money that people need. They need soul food too – they need theatre, dance and music. He is skeptical, wanting to build a mall there, quite convinced that theater is dead in Shamli. There is no way that Dia was going to let a mall come up at Ajanta, the old theater at Shamli. She wants to keep her promise to her dying Guruji.
However, she realises that though Shamli hasn’t forgotten her, it hasn’t forgiven her – not that this dampens her indomitable spirit. Raja throws her a challenge – do it in 2 months or see a mall come up there. The old theatre is aptly named Ajanta and the symbolism is clear. Ajanta represents the Indian cultural tradition and the mall represents the new consumerist culture of the west. When one of the characters tells her not to bring the ‘western’ culture of dance and music here to the village she gives it right back – dance and music is our culture she says, not theirs.
In the first half of the movie it is all Madhuri. But the second half has a myriad of characters – Kunal Kapoor, Konkana Sen Sharma and Ranvir Shorey being the most prominent. They come to participate in her Laila Majnu ‘drama’ which is going to be held at Ajanta at the end of two months. Kunal is Majnu and Konkana is Laila. It is great fun to watch the rehearsals and as for the final show at the end of the movie – it’s an absolute joy. I wasn’t too impressed with Kunal Kapoor’s acting, but Konkana is fantastic as usual. She plays the simple village belle to perfection. It was wonderful watching her with Madhuri and where acting was concerned, Madhuri and Konkana were equally good. I remember that in ‘Laaga Chunriya mein daag’ Konkana had eclipsed Rani in the scenes they had together, but here inspite of her brilliant acting Konkana doesn’t quite manage to eclipse Madhuri.
About the story, what struck me as very odd is that Dia doesn’t seem to be too concerned that her parents are missing, that they fled town after she ‘shamed’ them…in fact Dia doesn’t even think about them…so engrossed is she in her upcoming ‘show.’ There were some other fairly unrealistic parts too, particularly as to how easily Dia manages to roughshod over opposition – in fact it was almost like a fairy-tale. Including the character of the squeaky clean M.P. Raja. The extravagant set was out of a dream too and one is agog as to how Dia manages to create such a mega-set in a small village in such a short time. Realism would have helped the movie a great deal…but then it would have been a brilliant movie, which it isn’t.
However the story does manage to carry you along…after all Dia was quite a diva before she left Shamli, and her magnetism pulls them in again…
What I find amusing is the New York Times review which says that the director of the film, Anil Mehta, “denies Dia, who is divorced with a daughter, a love life.” True, Dia doesn’t have a love life, but does every divorcee (or for that matter, everyone, divorcee or not) man or woman, need to have one every month of their lives? After all the movie takes place in the span of just two months…and the fact that some chemistry is shown between Dia and Raja is good enough. Dia had come to India with a purpose, and that was to revive Ajanta and it was natural that she wouldn’t think of romance. And from the audience point of view, the romance between Laila and Majnu is satisfying. In fact the second half of the movie is all about love because of the theme of the play. The director has tried to delve a little into the real-life relationships of some of the actors in the play, but it’s a superficial job. And as for Dia, a love-life is very much there for her….waiting in the wings.
Most of the characters in the movie are not properly etched out…although Mohan’s (Ranvir Shorey) character is an interesting one. He is the man who Dia almost married before she eloped with a stranger and he carries a torch for her still…
This movie is a musical and you can read a music review by blogger Joginder here. Overall, the movie is a must-watch for anyone who likes Madhuri, Konkana or Kunal. I like all these three actors, and I certainly liked the movie much better than OSO (Om Shanti Om). At least Aaja has a message, a meaning…I think only those who cannot enjoy a movie without suspense or dark scenes will not enjoy this movie…and ofcourse those who do not like musicals. But I must mention – there is a fight scene, done very naturally and fitting in very well with the story. And I’ll say one more thing – I loved this movie.