It is never a particularly good idea to marry a Happy Ending to a rash of loose ends, but the result that the director duo of Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK extract from this quirky and risky exercise is none-too-unhappy.
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From last year’s zom-com Go Goa Gone to this crazy “comedy about romantic comedies”, the directors haven’t really shifted gears quite to the extent that they might appear to have done.
They are still into crafting whimsical, Bollywood-style send-ups of popular Hollywood genres. In the rather patchy but inoffensive Happy Ending, the narrative style is bright and breezy enough to help them paper over the flaws in the screenplay. And the tone they adopt here is much less zany than the one they did in Go Goa Gone, and so this film is infinitely easier to relate to. Happy Ending enmeshes the wildly absurd with the mildly funny to deliver two-and-a-quarter hours of harmless entertainment that does not overly try the audience’s patience despite the many holes that it is riddled with. It mocks the filmic concept of the “till death do us part” kind of love. The commitment-phobic male protagonist at the heart of the film’s plot falls in and out of love as if it were a swimming pool.
The film also takes humorous jabs at how commercial films are conceptualized and written in the Mumbai industry. And Happy Ending of course seeks to show up the futility of the honeyed dreams that romantic comedies peddle to a gullible audience. For producer and lead actor Saif Ali Khan, Happy Ending represents a breezy rejig of his Hum Tum and Salaam Namaste persona of a decade ago.
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The confused philanderer act that he attempted with mixed results in the more recent Cocktail now appears well past its sell-by date. Yet, the many collegiate hook-ups and break-ups he pulls off in Happy Ending do not look completely at odds with the film’s purpose. Happy Ending seeks to have us believe that there are no happy endings in real life.
So, when we meet our man Yudi Jaitley, Los Angeles-based one-book wonder, his bestseller has dropped off the shelves of bookstores been put in the cut-price corner. What’s worse, his bank balance has sunk dangerously low and he has defaulted on his car loan repayment. The swanky red crock is towed away and he is in grave danger of losing “the fame, money and girls” that he has had for the asking all these years. It is five and a half years since his book was published, and in this period he has dated eight and a half girls. With the ninth one, his dentist (Kalki Koechlin), he is, as always, in two minds. So the lady puts a tracker app on her mobile to constantly monitor his whereabouts. A voluble Mumbai film producer (Govinda) lands in Los Angeles in search of a writer who can rustle up a “kickass” rom-com: “a Bollywood film written in Hollywood style”.
Yudi gets a lifeline. His drinking mate and foul weather aide is a married guy (Ranvir Shorey) who just can’t shake off the vice-grip like that his wife has on his life. There is another bloke around Yudi whose voice he heeds, and he is his own inner self – an ill-kempt, cynical, irritable creature (Saif Ali Khan again) who does his best to warn him of the pitfalls that lie ahead.
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The biggest of them all is a rival writer (Ileana D’Cruz) whose pulpy romantic novel, Crazy Hearts, has dislodged Yudi’s Operation Payback from the list of bestsellers. There is no love lost between the two writers, and sparks fly when a desperate Yudi begins to grab at straws for survival. As far as love stories go, Happy Ending goes nowhere. To be fair, the audience is warned as early as in the opening sequence in a movie hall.
Saif’s Yudi is munching popcorn noisily as his girlfriend (Kareena Kapoor in a special appearance) tries to let him know that she loves him to distraction. The hero is certainly mighty distracted. He makes no effort at all to reciprocate the girl’s emotion. She stomps off angrily and dumps him, declaring that their relationship is going nowhere. If you expect Happy Ending to get somewhere, you are watching the wrong film. Do not expect the world from Happy Ending and you might actually find in it enough enjoyable patches to make a trip to the multiplex worth your while. -ndtv