Let’s start with the positives. Actually, there is only one: Chakri Toleti’s Welcome To New York is less than two hours long despite an interval.
Now that it’s out of the way, here’s the caution that one must heed to before paying a significant amount of money to watch this disaster of a Bollywood film – there are far too many unfunny puns, stuffed in every dialogue, every scene, every corner of this star-studded film. For those who get restless when jokes flatline one after the other, you have been forewarned. It’s as though the makers came up with the jokes first, before the actual script, and decided that they take precedence despite being oh-so-bad. If anything, that takes guts. Or a massive amount of over-confidence.
Welcome To New York begins with several celebrities, including some A-listers, laughing maniacally in front of the camera. No dialogues, just laughing. The credits feature somewhere on the screen, but one is more focused on the celebrities, who are not associated with the film, actually taking time out of their schedule to shoot a video of themselves laughing in front of the screen for nearly three minutes. A sign perhaps that paying and watching this film is the real ‘laugh riot’ as opposed to the film itself.
The film is supposed to be a spoof of Bollywood’s IIFA Awards, as experienced by two average Joes – Teji (Diljit Dosanjh) and Jeenal Patel (Sonakshi Sinha). The show is around the corner and the organisers decide to make it bigger this year. Unlike what they had been doing the past few years, such as making Hollywood actors like Kevin Spacey do the lungi dance, this time they hold a talent hunt of sorts wherein the winners would get to share the stage with the stars in New York.
Teji is a highly melodramatic undertaker in Punjab who aspires to be a big actor. The minute he sees a mirror, he bursts into a Bollywood character. Jeenal is a Gujarati fashion designer who thinks it’s appropriate to try and dress up a stranger wherever she goes. The two win the talent hunt thanks to Sophie (Lara Dutta) who deliberately picks the worst out of the lot so that IIFA is a disaster this year. There’s Karan Johar, too, who generously appears on the screen every 10 minutes and contributes little apart from jokes on himself. There’s a gangster version of Karan too, who hates the filmmaker because of the close resemblance between them.
And between all this pointless storyline and ribaldry, stars such as Rana Daggubati, Sushant Singh Rajput, Aditya Roy Kapur flit in and out of the screen playing themselves. No relevance, just appearing so that it all looks like one elaborate, snazzy sketch happening on the IIFA stage.
In the second half of the film, the camera for exactly a second shows the two hosts of the reel IIFA Awards – Riteish Deshmukh and Karan Johar – practice their skills before the big night. For barely a second, the two are seen monkeying around with golden toilet seats over their heads, a blink-and-you-miss visual. But if you do catch that, it perfectly encapsulates how the makers really handle this film despite investing a lot of money in it.
For some reason, the makers deemed it necessary to constantly bring the two protagonists’ communities – Gujarati and Punjabi – on focus even if it has no relevance. Jeenal likes wearing vibrant colours, heavy jewellery and make-up, and talks about fafdas and theplas. She breaks into Gujarati in between with an accent, and forgets to bring it back. And what makes her a true ‘Gujju’ girl you ask? Bringing the cleanliness of Baroda and ‘Jai Modi ji’ into the conversation, even if you see no traces of Gujarati in her.
Teji is a true blue Punjabi munda because he’s loud, says uppar taali instead of ‘high-five’, and says confidently that he can dance because which Punjabi doesn’t know how to dance? And if that isn’t enough to convince you that he’s Punjabi, his background music has ‘Punjabi!’ in it.
Apart from these two inter-state stereotypes, the biggest one is Karan Johar himself. He takes constant digs at himself, his love for designer clothes, and his homosexuality. If his performance as the smooth talking gangster in Bombay Velvet convinced you that he can act, here he convinces you that he can also not act on purpose. Not because the script demands it, but because it’s funny to watch the audience groan while everybody performs their worst on screen.
Sorry, guys. But the joke is really on us for watching it.
The Welcome To New York review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.