Partner—the Review

When Chota Don (played by Rajpal Yadav) says “Kisne kiya hain ungli. Kaun hain humare beech main Sourav Ganguly” (Who has betrayed us? Which among us is Sourav Ganguly) in “Partner” there was a moment when I thought, looking at the semantic association between Ganguly and “traitor”, that the staffers at a certain cricket-themed “info” website had collaborated in the script of David Dhawan’s latest flick.

Not that any help was needed because Dhawan is firmly in control in “Partner”. Reunited with long-lost muse Govinda, he belts out his best work in recent times—-a throwback to his salad days in the 90s but still quite a bit short of the sublime genius of “Haseena Maan Jayegi” or the genre-defining “Raja Babu”.

When analyzing the phenomenon of Dhawanism, it is futile to take into account plot originality, logic and character development just as it is useless to consider Shilpa Shetty’s intellect or Laloo Yadav’s honesty when it comes to judging their place in history. And that is because the greatness of Dhawan’s creations can be measured only by the craziness you can remember, long after you have forgotten the movie name.

So for me, Govinda’s multicoloured dresses , buxom women in white saris shaking their posteriors, Anupam Kher in a Hitler moustache yelling Aoooyaaaaa as he is wracked by lust, Shakti Kapoor (picture of Shakti Kapoor to the left looking like a cross between Hitler, Gandhi and Mother Teresa) saying “Lajababu tho gya” while manipulating his chaddi, Govinda in drag essaying the role of the legendary Bruce Lee ki behen Choos Lee, an introduction on the lines of “Yeh aap ke honewale pati ke ho chuke bacchein hain” to a bride-to-be represent the pinnacles of Dhawanism, as these unconnected disparate fragments of shadows and light culled from multiple celluloid creations have, just like the two lizards I once saw fornicating on the wall, burnt their images into my mind, allowing me to, in moments of sadness, to reflect and have a quiet chuckle to myself.

This is precisely where “Partner” loses out because despite snappy dialogues, Govinda’s “give-it-all” performance complete with baby-stepping and the classic dance moves executed with a pristine smoothness that belies his sperm-whale-washed-ashore look, there will not be any moments from “Partner” that will join the primordial soup of eternal Dhawan memories, at least for me.

The reason for that is perhaps that David Dhawan’s style of movie-making has changed dramatically over the years. Not all the change is for the bad of course—the misogynistic, polygamy-endorsing chauvinism of “Gharwaali Baharwali” has been replaced by a sensitivity towards single mothers in “Partner” (a change I presume dictated by the political correctness of the target demographic more than anything else). In the process of sanitization however, Dhawan sadly KaranJoharizes himself—displaying a proclivity for spectacular foreign locales, songs with an “international feel” (Spanish, reggae, hiphop) and over- mature kids who need a tight slap or two, along with a corresponding abnegation of the classic (often crass) signature double entrendes and the subaltern environs where “Ram Narayan baja bajata” while doing “thumkas” and people for whom “mehenat mera jeewan” used to breathe. In the process, David Dhawan abandons the milleau he is most comfortable in and blunted the “crass” edge demented people like me so adored.

So when one of the character says “Main Laila laila karke maila thaila leke ghum raha hoon” in “Partner”, I could not help but think how David Dhawan in the 90s would have possibly made this into “Main Laila laila karke maila ho raha hoon” or something on those lines.

As a concomitant of this new approach, Dhawan jettisons the side characters and bit players that made his creations memorable—the Shakti Kapoors, the Kader Khans, the Aruna Iranis, the Anupam Khers and the Johnny Levers who were as much a part of the Dhawan kaleidoscope of madness as Govinda himself have made way to the anatomically correct and suitably plastic Deepsikha. What a let-down. And lest I forget, the “Maria Maria” type songs, introduced to make David Dhawan “upmarket”, are an insult to the glorious traditions of “Teri naani maari to main kya karoon” , “Kiya pompom ka ishara mujhe badnaam kiya na”  and “Baare kam ka bandar, naache to Jitender”which, no matter what you think of their lyrical qualities, are memorable, unlike the Partner title track.

Of course David Dhawan is aware of this change. In what I felt was the best scene of the whole movie, the Govinda character is seen dancing, flaying his arms and legs rustically, to the tune of “Sarkailo Khatiya”(changed to “Sarkailo Takiya”) when his love guru Salman Khan tells him that all this is now passe and unleashes the minimalist dance moves of “Chill Chill just chill” to show how “cool” is defined today, getting into an argument with Govinda on the difference between vulgarity and style.

Maybe I could be over-interpreting it, but this was in a way David Dhawan’s “explanation” to his fans for his metamorphosis.

Ah well.

We shall always have “Nandu sab ka bandu” and the “Oui amma oui amma kya karta hain”-s.

33 thoughts on “Partner—the Review

  1. That is a dissapointing review. I was looking forward to seeing a Govinda-Dhawan classic after so many years.

    Oh, and by the way, first comment (I hope).

  2. Disappointed No. 1 August 2, 2007 — 4:53 pm

    You say “Dhawan…belts out his best work in years” and then you devote the entire review to critiquing how Dhawan has moved away from his signature, beloved style of movie-making. I, too, am a fan of Govinda-Dhawan’s special kind of madness, but this movie was terrible. Salman Khan was insufferable, Govinda hams like he’s Tony Sopranos favorite bologna sandwich, the story is direction-less and the direction is thunderingly unstoried.

    I think the movie deserved a stronger critique.

  3. @Anonymouse: Ah well.
    @Disappointed No 1: Yes it is his “best work” in years—-which is perhaps an accurate reflection of the state of his current productions. If you are evaluating a Dhawan movie on the parameters of hamming and story, then I would say (like I did in the post) you are applying the wrong parameters. The problem, in my opinion, is that Dhawan has moved away from the world where he reigned supreme to the domain of the Chopras and the Johars –in the process losing the edge that he had in the 90s.

  4. Funny review, GB. I like it. This brought back memories of the 1993 classic “Aankhen”, Bunnu (Govinda) and Munnu (Chunky “The Monkey” Pandey).

    Kadar Khan’s dialogues had me cracking up all the time. Incidentally, Khan’s facial resemblance (in both his dual roles) to Bunnu-Munnu’s pet monkey (Bajrangi) was remarkable. 😉

  5. I think the reason you didn’t like the movie was due to the Saurav Ganguly joke 🙂
    You being his die hard fan and everything…

  6. Disappointed No. 1 August 2, 2007 — 5:21 pm

    GB —

    “Hamming and story”, if done correctly (or NOT done correctly in the case of the story), can be classic. I think we both agree that we’re willing to let Dhawan slide on most criteria that a “good” movie would be judged, if he just made it funny. This movie is NOT funny except for a few instances like the aforementioned, in your review, “Sarkaiylo Khatiya” dance by Govinda and some of the Chotta Bhai scenes.

    Just because Dhawan has made some classic and memorable movies (of the madcap humor variety) in the past, does not excuse this sorry excuse for a movie. I, though, completely agree that Dhawan needs to be “De-Chopra-ised” and “De-Johar-ised”. And if I may add — this fallacy that Salman is a good comic actor needs to be laid to rest once and for all. And him teaching Govinda to dance in the movie…? Somebody shoot me now!!!

  7. I’m so glad you selflessly throw yourself at these movies so that cowards like me don’t have to do anything. But your review (like the movie), is missing the acknowledgement due to Will Smith…

  8. In my opinion the best one was Saajaan Chale Sasural. I found Raja Babu a bit too vulgar (….although the khatia song was aboy’s hostel “Shabab” favourite and definitely served its purpose….an appetizer for TV6 Mokba). In that movie I thought Satish Kaushik was brilliant in parts.

    I have only one criteria in judging a film, does it play by the rules and limits to “willing suspension of disbelief” it sets for itself. By this token, in Die-Hard 4, Bruce Willis getting thrown of a moving car and escaping with few scratches is ok but grappling with a F-16 type airplane with bare hands was a bridge too far, even for a benumbed brain.

    By that token will Partner be worth 200 bucks at Inox?Will there be humour?My opportnity cost is a saturday siesta. Tell me o wise one.

  9. Yeah Dhawan should stick to raw Dhawanism …. that’s what makes his movies pure classics ….. I think he should get rid of his cable connection at home … he is watching too much of MTV ….

  10. I dont agree Arnab..
    In my opinion, these days other producers/Directors who are selling crap in the name of movies and we shell out 100s of bucks to see that shit. This movie was good enuf to give me the entertainment what i paid for.

    I know where the problem is. Once you go into the comparisons than the problems start to arise.

    Leave the analyzing mode at home.. and if possible leave your brain ( If you have a girl with you than she done have to do it) at the doorkeeper. and than see the movie like I did.. and what witnessed was 2 hours of full masti and dhamaal and mindless entertainment.

    I liked the movie.. i would love to see it again instead of that johar and chopra crap like KANK.

    Agree that both actors were hamming to the tilt but thats what they were supposed to do dont they ? otherwise where you will see a missile following a jetski and we have to pretend that it is followng the sound. but we had fun didnt we ?

    Story ? what is that ? we dont need a story to laugh on… i think the slapstick from Sanjay chhel were like toppings on the cake.. they were very good.. and at places brillint.

    Music I think was in sync of the mood of the film.

    These are all my excerpts and I am no David Dhawan PR executive working for him.
    Just an ” Aam aadmi”


  11. The scene where Govinda sits on the table (in the meeting) and speaks to one of the guys English (something along the line of “.. go to hell ..” ) was so reminiscent of Govinda-Rani arguing in English in Hadh Kar di Aapne. Reaffirms the belief that the queen’s language is no longer a stronghold of the elite.

    I saw on CNN-IBN that the movie is a superhit. Govinda does Kevin James proud.

  12. My athanni worth comments all laid out in bullet points for easy reading –

    1. I miss Kader Khan. Why has he suddenly disappeared from the Hindi film landscape? Oh right, we’re too trendy and hip for his brand of middle-class sagas and corny, crazy and yet so incisive dialogues. I still chuckle at his brilliant parody of Sohrab Modi in “Ghar Ho to Aisa”.

    2. I know it’s cliche to say this by now, but Govinda is really underrated. The sort of effortless ease and impish joy he brings to his dancing is something that few Bollywood actors have matched up (Bhagwan dada in the past, and Amitabh copied Bhagwan all the time). His comic timing is excellent, all he needs is a director who is able to exploit it well. Dhawan hits the spot sometimes, but not always.

    3. If you want to know where old Bollywood has disappeared, check out the Bhojpuri film scene. That’s where all the social dramas, lower middle and middle class aspirations, and innuendos have gone. The Karan Johar/Yash Chopra brigade hasn’t jazzed them up yet – though the success of Bhojpuri films may be their own undoing – we’re not too far from a “Joharized” Bhojpuri film.

  13. GB, remember the line, “Teri maa ki …… behen ki umar ki hoon main” from Auntie No. 1?

    Those were the days 🙂

  14. waiting for your review on “Sivaji-the Boss”.please its a sincere request 🙂

  15. this is ludicrous…comparing a person who has done so much for the country to a traitor!!! I can say nothing but feel pity for these creatures, however big they becum they’ll never forget the anti-Bengali(or so to say Bong) rascism which they have inherited and inculcated so precisely. my friend was asking me to go with him for the movie, but after hearing such ‘praise’ from our gr8 Arnabda, I hav a strong mind not to try it out , atleast in the theatre. Thanx 4 warning GB, am not going 2 watch it…

  16. You’ve forgotten to mention the heroines in a David Dhawan folm – Karishma Kapoor, Raveena Tandon and Juhi Chawla (in Deewana Mastana)- they complemented Govinda so well in each gag so well!

    Katrina, in Partner, could have been replaced by a wax replica of herself, and it wouldn’t have made a difference to the film.

  17. The review although tried hard to be mirth evoking was really not upto the mark, I think you got lost the track somewhere in between where you , instead of reviewing partner as a movie, started recollecting all those ninety “chaddi-nada” movie nostalgia which was really not required.

  18. I couldnt stand 15 minutes of this movie – I don’t know why comedies lately in Indian movies follow a formula of being completely over the top with all actors shouting at top of their voices to make it feel funy – whatever happened to those old comedies!

    Give me a Raja Babu, Coolie No. 1 or Hero No. 1 any day over this partner…


  19. good review…the chaddi nadda or rather the “No.1” phase was Dhawan at his best….no one gave a damn about the low production values or the loopholes in the plot…the dialogues were sharp and the acting howlarious.

    Please do not forget “Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya”, the first decent “KJo”ed Dhawan movie.

  20. The anon comment was mine….sorry for the error

  21. @Tarzan

    You found it entertaining ? You actually laughed ? Which scene, exactly ? Tell me, tell me.

  22. @Turtle
    Yes my friend i did actually laughed.
    Whenever Salman and Govinda came face to face it was great !!
    And after that when i read this review 🙂


  23. As you correctly pointed out, David Dhawan has also fallen prey to the charms of ‘Chopra/Johar-isation’ – trying out sophisticated moves instead of aggressive thumkas.
    The other titan to fall for this was Subhash Ghai, who tried to woo NRI audiences and in-film advertisers with Taal, Yaadein and Kisna (getting progressively worse with every attempt). I so miss the bombastic dialogues and 70-piece-orchestra background score of his earlier masterpieces like Hero, Karz and Saudagar!

  24. Good review GB. I miss those pre-Johar days too.

  25. If I was Sourav Ganguly I would sue this David guy for libel.

  26. Dissapointing Review … not at all a good movie infact a horrible movie to say the least …

  27. Review of Partner and Will Smith’s Hitch does not get a mention?

  28. Buddy, I have not seen the movie. I did not intend to see. But the review is awesome. Like many of you here, I also like raw dhawanism. But you could have mentioned Hitch. You can put a piece on how a 90’s Dhawan would have made a copy of the hitch (I bet that would be a superhit).

  29. Another Aunty Number One dialogue .. “usne mujhe uski laal chadi dikha ke dhamkaya..”

  30. I really didn;t dislike the movie though my fav Dhawan movie is Saajan Chale Sasural – its like a pick me up!!

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