Welcome to New York, starring Diljit Dosanjh, Sonakshi Sinha and Karan Johar, isn’t merely a bad film, or even a terrible one. It’s depressing. Not because the plot is all over the place (it is!), not because the actors appear to be doing whatever they like (they are!), and not because it has no vision or ambition (it doesn’t!) – but because it’s an exercise in sheer pointlessness. Really, this film has no reason to exist.
I want to know why someone thought of making this movie. I want to know how they sold the idea to a producer. And how they convinced fairly busy actors to be in it. I suspect the answer to all of those questions is the same: because there was money to be made.
Getting a fat paycheck is always a good reason to take a job. But in the case of this film, it’s fairly evident that money was likely the only motivation for everyone involved. They didn’t even have to break a sweat, or do their job to earn the check; looks like they just had to show up.
This lazy movie piggybacks on the IIFA Awards for its premise. IIFA, as you probably know, is Bollywood’s favorite paid vacation. Each year half the industry is flown to a fancy foreign destination for a weekend of schmoozing with the same people that they schmooze with the rest of the year. Oh yes, they also give out awards at the end. There’s a term for this kind of exercise – it’s called a circle jerk.
The film stars Diljit Dosanjh as Teji Sandhu, a chota mota goonda from Punjab with acting aspirations, and Sonakshi Sinha as Jeenal Patel, a scowling fashion designer. They’re flown to New York to attend the IIFAs as winners of a talent contest, although the truth is that they’re both pretty talentless. They’ve been picked as part of a sabotage plan by Lara Dutta who has an ax to grind with her boss, the organizer of the event, played by Boman Irani.
Meanwhile, getting just as much screen time as the leads, if not more, is filmmaker Karan Johar who’s playing – wait for it – a double role. He is both Karan and Arjun. As Karan, he plays an exaggerated version of himself; a flaky, brands-obsessed, spotlight-hungry, Bollywood insider. As Arjun, he is the pissed-off doppelganger of the famous film director, a dreaded don-like figure who hates Karan Johar, his movies, and everyone who enjoys his movies. Arjun has hatched a plan to kidnap Karan during the IIFAs in New York, which the latter is hosting.
The plot, if you can call it that, allows for all manner of cameos, and everyone from Riteish Deshmukh and Sushant Singh Rajput to Rana Dagubatti and Khan brothers Salman, Arbaaz and Sohail make walk-on appearances. But nothing – I repeat, nothing – beats the irony of Katrina Kaif dismissing someone as a bad actor, and, in another scene, Aditya Roy Kapur giving acting tips.
But these gifts – unintentional though they might be – are few and far between in a film so severely steeped in stupidity that it brings me back to question how in the world something like this got made in the first place. Did no one read the script? Was there a script at all? How much do you have to pay actors to embarrass themselves in this way?
Welcome to New York is directed by Chakri Toleti who helmed the Tamil and Telugu remakes of A Wednesday, both starring Kamal Haasan. But this film is devoid of any personality or any directorial signature. It is supposedly a comedy but the laughs can be counted on your fingertips, and can be attributed largely to the sharp timing of the film’s leading man Diljit Dosanjh. A scene in which the star-struck Teji runs into Karan Johar in a hotel elevator and insists on playing a round of rapid fire Q&A is terrific.
Karan Johar, for his part, shrewdly makes so many jokes at his own expense you’ll be hard-pressed to come up with more. A scene in which he flips out when someone accidentally stamps his limited-edition designer shoes is very funny.
Not very funny, unfortunately, is Sonakshi Sinha, who comes off exaggerated and out-of-step even in a film of such ridiculously low standards. She spends the bulk of her time on screen contorting her face like Jim Carrey, but with none of the same results.
To add insult to injury the film has been released in 3D. There is nothing in the movie that merits this technology. Neither does it have pop-out sequences, nor is it an immersive kind of story. It’s just one more baffling decision in a lousy, lousy film.
I’m going with one out of five for Welcome To New York. The lure of the Big Apple has never before sounded like a threat.
Rating: 1 / 5
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