Chandni Chowk To China

Posted January 21, 2009 in Film

Half Bollywood, Half Chinese, all nonsense spectacle. Nikhil Advani’s sprawling action-comedy has the feel of great ambition designed by committee. In India, a half-witted street vendor named Sidhu (local superstar Akshay Kumar plays him as Borat without the irony) is visited by two wise villagers from China who tell him he’s the reincarnation of their warrior Liu Shiang. Sidhu is primed to believe them; after all, he just found a potato shaped like Lord Ganesh. Sidhu, duplicitous fortune teller Chopstick (Ranvir Shorey), and mercenary beauty Sakhi (Deepika Padukone) don’t make the transition to China smoothly. Still, they do it far better than Advani, who jolts from broad Bollywood comedy (like steam physically shooting from Sidhu’s ears) to kung fu melodrama like he’s as disoriented and divided as the morally-torn Chopstick who literally keeps a devil and an angel perched on his shoulders. Chandni Chowk to China isn’t very funny, and it isn’t very engaging—Kumar’s humor, much of which involves slobbish lakes of drool, doesn’t translate. However, with Chia Hui Liu’s tyrant Hojo, it does boast a brilliant villain who borrows the best bits of Hollywood lore from Peter Lorre’s slithering composure (and face) to a blade-rimmed bowler hat straight out of James Bond designed to decapitate his victims with just a flick of the wrist. (Amy Nicholson)



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