Aaja Nachle – A Damp Squib

Madhuri Dixit’s comeback vehicle Aaja Nachle turned out to be quite a bit of disappointment.

A lightweight film with few rewarding surprises, there’s not much going for Aaja Nachle besides fine performances by Konkona Sen and Kunal Kapoor and an average performance by yesteryear Bollywood queen Madhuri Dixit (now living in the U.S.)

Most of all, for a movie that’s supposedly about dance we were not even treated to any great dance performances other than the garden-variety kind.

If shallow movies like Aaja Nachle, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and Ta Ra Rum Pum are the kind of films that one of Bollywood’s premier production houses Yash Raj Films can churn out, there’s not much to be said for India’s tinseltown.

Music is perhaps the sole saving grace of Aaja Nachle. We liked most of the songs, particularly the title song Aaja Nachle as well as O Re Piya and Ishq Hua.

Aaja Nachle’s photography is fairly decent and visually the movie is above average.

But Aaja Nachle’s Achilles heel is its fairly pedestrian story, which lacks depth and rich layers to offer much by way of entertainment.

There are too many gaps and jumps in the movie. For instance, Diya’s initial passion for dance or her bond with her dance teacher fail to adequately come through, partly because of the inadequacies of the script.

In several scenes, Madhuri’s face lacks the sparkle or vivacity that endeared this luminous beauty to millions of Indians in the 1980s and 1990s. Perhaps, some of the lost sparkle is because of the ravages of age.

After 11-long years in the U.S., a NRI divorcee and dance choreographer Diya (Madhiri Dixit) in New York City returns to her childhood town Shamili in India upon hearing that her old dance teacher (Darshan Zariwala) is on his deathbed.

By the time Diya reaches Shamili, the old geezer is no more and the town dance theater Ajanta is scheduled for demolition so that a shopping mall can be built there by a local businessman (Irrfan Khan).

So, now our New York babe Diya with a young daughter in tow makes it her mission to save the crumbling dance theatre by involving the local folks, many of whom are still hostile to her for eloping with a White boy and bringing shame to her parents many years earlier.

Two talented actors Akshaye Khanna and Irrfan Khan – both in Special Appearances in Aaja Nachle – do an adequate job.

It’s interesting to note that in Indian movies NRIs in the U.S. are always returning to India!

Remember, Shahrukh Khan went back to Kaveriamma’s village and got the poor folks electricity in Swades.

In June this year, Rajnikant went back to his state Tamil Nadu in South India and got rid of the corrupt politicians in Sivaji.

Now, Madhuri Dixit has gone back to her small town Shamili and given them a Laila Majnu dance program that they can all be proud of in Aaja Nachle.

Coming back to Aaja Nachle, all we can say is that given all its inadequacies the movie packs a low EQ (Entertainment Quotient) and is definitely not a must-watch film.

If you are a connoiseur of good movies and live in the New York or Los Angeles area, your time might be spent more fruitfully this weekend watching the French film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which got rave reviews in both the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) and New York Times today.

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