WAQT: The Race Against Time (Vipul Amrutlal Shah, 2005)
Okay, so I’m just gonna put this out there. YES, I cried at the end. YES, I do realize that as Aatif, one of the lovely boys from Gorafied so succinctly put it on Twitter: “Tears for WAQT? Really? Not doing your credibility any favours :-P”.
What you need to realize is this: I will cry at pretty much anything. If there is a HINT, the merest, tiniest hint of family tragedy, unrequited or believed to be unrequited but eventually against all odds requited love, or even triumphing over adversity, I will pretty much be a wreck within minutes. As you can probably imagine, the cheesefest that is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition completely undoes me, especially when it’s about sick kids. And let’s not forget I cried at Heyy Babyy.
So yeah, I cried at WAQT. It was always going to happen, given it is the story of Ishwar, a father (played by Amitabh Bachchan) who spoils and shelters his son Adi (Akshay Kumar) who dreams of becoming a film actor but never really does anything about it, because his dad is always there to give him whatever he wants and needs in life. However, Ishwar is dying (DUN DUN DUN!) but won’t tell Adi about it – instead, he decides to go all tough love on him and cuts him off, hoping he will learn to stand on his own two feet before Ishwar runs out of time.
Bring. It. ON.
Anyway. There goes my cred. The fact I cried, OBVIOUSLY does not mean WAQT: The Race Against Time is a good film. In fact, there is so much wrong with it, I hardly know where to begin.
It’s a tremendously uneven film, from a confusing and clunky opening, to the way it veers wildly between comedy and high melodrama throughout, as if it were being made up on the fly by someone highly overemotional with a pressing deadline. In fact, WAQT is based on a Gujarati play, but the whole thing, from start to finish, felt like one big, weirdly star-studded made-for-tv movie.
Songs are clumsily wedged in at odd intervals, adding nothing coherent in terms of plot development in most cases (something even my mother, a longtime loather of musicals, has managed to accept that good Hindi films do well is integrating the songs with the plot to avoid the old musical cliché of ‘and now the action stops, it’s time for a song’). Don’t get me started on the weird matching of voice artist to actor – I don’t know who was matched to Akki in this movie, but HE SOUNDED LIKE A GIRL. And that is just wrong. Akshay Kumar is a manly man. A smoking hot manly man, who you should never gasp at in laughter from a seriously odd sounding singing voice. Udit Narayan and Sonu Nigam – my favorites because they often do SRK’s songs – were listed as singers for this film, but I’m guessing Big B got the big guns and Akki got…what? A chipmunk?
The best integrated song, and OH HOW IT PAINS ME TO SAY THIS, was introduced something like this: Adi is in his crappy house talking to his wife Pooja (Priyanka Chopra).
Adi: We could go on a 2nd honeymoon. To Morocco.
Cue: song in Morocco. NOT EVEN A RECOGNISABLE MOROCCO – it looked like any old dusty rocky desert.
Who doesn't want to spend their honeymoon rocking out?
Song ends. Adi and Pooja are back in the house. Adi is singing the song to himself and Pooja snaps him out of his daydream.
REALLY? IT WAS LIKE A DREAM SEQUENCE? You dream of dusty rocks, Adi? And yet this:
I call it "Creepy Desert Dreamscape"
at the start of the film, is an unexplained location, and apparently totally real and not imaginary. WAQT is WHACKED, y’all.
The most annoying thing about my dvd copy of the film, (the first film produced by Eros Entertainment) was the scrolling banner that popped up constantly at the top of the screen every time there was a song, offering it to me as a ringtone if I txted a certain number,
Thanks Eros. I've never heard of WAITING UNTIL A FILM IS FINISHED TO WORRY ABOUT MY RINGTONE.
and popping up at random intervals during the film pointing me towards Ero’s website.
Yes Akki. That's how I feel too.
IF I WASN’T ALREADY BOYCOTTING EROS I WOULD BE NOW. Not a great marketing move, Eros, making the most possible distractions EVER when people are TRYING TO WATCH A FILM.
But it wasn’t all bad. I don’t want to be too mean to this film because there is also a lot of good. There is entertainment to be found, both intentional, and I fear, unintentional.
1. Boman Irani. The more I see this guy, from film to film, the more I appreciate what a great actor he is. He has SUCH fantastic chemistry with Big B and Rajpal Yadav that every time he was onscreen (after the clunky beginning, where the attempts to establish his character as comic relief were a bit murky) I was laughing out loud, for the RIGHT reasons.
2. Akki and Priyanka. If you follow the Bollywood gossip, you will know that ALLEGEDLY, Akki has been ordered by his wife Twinkle to stay away from Priyanka following a rumoured affair between the two of them a while back. (If you don’t follow the Bollywood gossip – WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? Bollywood gossip is awesomely juicy, and may I suggest visiting Filmi Girl’s site – she has her finger on the pulse of ALL THINGS Bollywood!). Anyway, seeing Akki and Priyanka play husband and wife, you can pick up perhaps why Twinkle would be concerned – even if the rumoured affair was just a rumour. The chemistry between them is undeniable, especially in Let’s Play Holi.
Also: um, what’s going on with Priyanka's nose? Another thing I found epically distracting.
It just looks...somehow different to how it does now?
3. Adi’s audition dance. UNINTENTIONALLY FUNNY. Yes, Akki can dance, but it doesn’t always mean he SHOULD. He hits every awesome interpretive dance move that I don’t understand: stay still like a statue for uncomfortably long;
pretend to hold something precious in your hands;
roll around on the floor;
dive and beg.
This dance is going to cheer me up from bad moods for YEARS to come, as the very definition of crazy dancing.
4. The ARMPIT HAIR CONTROVERSY CONTINUES!
What do you mean, continues? I hear you asking. Well. I can’t really explain it without sounding entirely like a freakshow but…um…for a little while there I was a tiny bit obsessed with the disappearing and reappearing armpit hair of the leading men of Bollywood. Specifically Hrithik Roshan’s armpit hair, (or sometimes lack thereof) until I noticed it seemed to be a trend, this armpit hair disappearance (coinciding with the trend for chest waxing). Then I got over it, because obsessing over armpit hair is creepy. Awesomely, when I least expected it, WAQT offered me a shining bright beacon to keep my creepy interest alive. LOOK! THERE IT IS!
Yes I am creepy and weird but LOOK! You can see it peeking out. THE OBSESSION LIVES ON.