Rajeev Masand

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Review: Partners Salman, Govinda have great chemistry

 
Rajeev Masand Reviews
 

  Direction: David Dhawan

Cast: Salman Khan, Govinda, Lara Dutta, Katrina Kaif

Step into la-la land for director David Dhawan’s Partner, a leave-your-brains-at-home comedy that’s been blatantly ripped off from the Will Smith starrer Hitch.

In this desi version, Salman Khan stars as a love guru who doles out romantic tips to those who can’t woo their sweethearts left to their own devices. Everything from how to charm a lady, to how to behave on a first date… Everything from dancing skills to bedroom manners… Love guru is the one-stop problem-solver for geeks and freaks.

But when dumpy Govinda shows up for advice on how to win the affections of his cute-as-a-daisy boss Katrina Kaif, even Love Guru can’t seem to come up with a good enough plan.

Clearly Govinda is aiming for the sky, evidently the dumpling has bitten off more than he can chew. But determined to find a place in her heart, gol-matol Govinda convinces Love Guru to take up his case.

Now in between training his new student, Love Guru himself falls hook, line and sinker for tabloid photographer Lara Dutta, who’s always on the run from a midget gangster whose pictures she’s secretly taken. In the end, both men learn that it’s only good old-fashioned sincerity and a big heart that it takes to woo your girl.

When David Dhawan’s in form, there’s nobody who can do comedy quite like him. But truth is the director’s been slipping up lately.

The problem with his recent films is fairly obvious – there’s just no plot to speak of. Look at some of his most successful films – Coolie No 1, Hero No 1, Judwaa – even if they were madcap movies, each had a very distinct plot and the actors performed within the framework of the plot.

But his recent films – Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya, Shaadi No 1 and even Partner have wafer-thin storylines and the focus is not so much on telling a story as it is about actor-interaction.

In the case of Partner for example, the screenplay has no twists and turns, no highs and lows, no surprises, no thrills.

The director depends entirely on the repartee between his actors to make the film work, the constant leg pulling between Govinda and Salman. All they’re doing throughout the film is delivering one funny dialogue after another.

Now while some of the lines are genuinely funny, let’s be honest, a lot of them just aren’t. Much of the dialogue just sounds forced.

Tell me two good jokes and I’ll be your fan, but tell me a hundred jokes one after another and I’ve had an overdose. That’s pretty much the feeling you get while watching Partner.

Now because he positions Partner as a family film that kids will equally enjoy, director David Dhawan ought to have used better judgment before including that crude scene at the end of the film in which Govinda repeatedly disturbs Salman’s honeymoon for advice on how to deliver a knockout performance in the sack. That’s adult humour and it shouldn’t have been used in a film that David wants the kids to see.

Also avoidable was the track with Rajpal Yadav playing the comic gangster. It’s not particularly funny, it doesn’t really add value to the basic premise of the film, and very abruptly that character and that track just vanishes from the film completely.

But hiccups aside, Partner isn’t entirely unwatchable because David draws out inspired performances from his two male leads. Watch Govinda in that scene where he consoles Salman’s sister after misunderstanding her husband’s whereabouts. Or that scene in which Salman teaches Govinda how to dance.

These are some of the best bits in Partner, and they work so well because Salman and Govinda have great chemistry together and their comic timing is magical.

With Partner resting largely on the able shoulders of Salman and Govinda, the film’s leading ladies have pretty much nothing to do. And that’s not exactly a bad thing, because neither Katrina nor Lara can match steps with the boys as far as comic timing is concerned.

How one misses David Dhawan veterans Karisma Kapoor and Juhi Chawla who complemented their heroes step-for-step in the director’s previous films.

As far as Partner is concerned, if you’re willing to ignore some of those slapstick jokes and the fact that the actors are constantly yelling at the top of their voices, then you might actually enjoy some parts of this film. I can safely tell you this would have been a far more entertaining film had the screenplay been tighter.

The entire last half hour of the film could be cut from the final print, and it would make no difference to the story at all.

I’m going to go with two out of five and an average rating for David Dhawan’s Partner.

It’s not a patch on some of the earlier comedies from the same director, but it’s not a film you’ll hate vehemently. For the joy of watching Salman and Govinda pull out all stops and get down to their loudest best, Partner might just be worth a watch.

Rating: 2 / 5 (Average)

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