PARTNER is a film that comes with incredible hype for a number of reasons. Firstly the movie pairs up Salman Khan with David Dhawan again after the success of countless movies including JUDWAA, BIWI NO.1, DULHAN HUM LE JAYENGEI, MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGI and MAINE PYAAR KYUN KIYA. Secondly because the movie reunites one of the most successful Jodi’s of our times, David Dhawan-Govinda! The jodi that reigned magic through the 90’s with blockbusters like AANKHEN, RAJA BABU, COOLIE NO.1, SAAJAN CHALE SASURAL, HERO NO.1, DEEWANA MASTANA and BADE MIYA CHHOTE MIYA, HASEENA MAAN JAYEGEI, and JODI NO.1 Lastly because the movie features Dhawans two favourites in one movie. So does the movie live up to expectations? YES! Switch your brains off and indulge in a laughter-filled riot!
The story by David Dhawan and Yunus Sejawal has been inspired by Andy Tennant’s Will Smith-Kevin James starrer HITCH. The entire premise of the movie remains the same with Smith being replaced by Prem aka Salman Khan, a date doctor who has helped hundreds of men woo the girls of their dreams and find true love. The ultimate bachelor playboy Prem finally meets his match and finds the women of his dreams, Naina (Lara Dutta, a feisty newspaper journalist.
Prem comes across Bhaskar Diwakar Chaudhury (Govinda) who is in love with Priya (Katrina Kaif) the rich daughter of a millionaire business tycoon Raichand (Dalip Tahill). Though reluctant at first, how Bhaskar wins over Prem’s heart so that Prem can help him win over Priya’s heart forms the rest of the crux. Yes there are some misunderstandings which are resolved rather quick, as well as an unfinished and unneeded track of an underworld don called Chhota Don (Rajpal Yadav) who seems inspired by both Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan. Though the basic premise of the movie is the same as well as a number of sequences which have been lifted directly, Sanjay Chhel’s screenplay does give the it’s own look and feel which in turn makes PARTNER it’s own unique movie. Where in PARTNER Smith clearly had the leading role, and James was supporting, in PARTNER it’s an equal show for both Salman and Govinda to showcase their mettle and Chhel has carefully crafted the script to take this in to account. If one wanted to sit here and pick faults they could easily fill up more than an hour, however the “mantra” for the “DD+” formula has always been “leave your brains at home” and PARTNER is no difference. However one does wish that the rather annoying angle of Chhota Don gets deleted as it’s sticks out like a sore thumb, and despite best attempts to inject humour including some old-school toilet humour, the angle fails to gel. On the other hand this can be over-looked as the focus here is primarily on Salman Khan and Govinda.
In my view David Dhawan’s entertainer blockbusters have always worked best when there is a certain level of male bonding. Be it AANKHEN with Govinda-Chunky Panday, COOLIE NO.1 with Govinda-Kadar Khan, DEEWANA MASTANA with Govinda-Anil BADE MIYA CHHOTE MIYA with Govinda-Amitabh, HASEENA MAAN JAYEGI with Govinda-Sanjay Dutt, BIWI NO.1 with Salman-Anil, MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGI with Salman-Akshay or MAINE PYAAR KYUN KIYA with Salman-Sohail. And in that retrospect PARTNER isn’t any different as the movie relies entirely on the chemistry and bonding between its rather spirited, energetic and lively duo. The magic is in the casting, and it wouldn’t be a far stretch to say that this is Dhawan’s “biggest” movie in a long time as he casts two actors who are as different as chalk-and-cheese in a comedy which perfectly taps in to their talent and compliments their career graph. Dhawan directs the film like a true-blue veteran who is now completely at ease with his brand of cinema, an art that he has mastered and then redone to mix in with the changing times and trends. Where parts of PARTNER screams of Dhawan’s new brand of loud and crude humour which can get a bit over-done at times, what makes it work better than most of Dhawan’s recent films is the touch of old-school magic that Dhawan recreates with Govinda. There are scenes where brings the house down completely, just watch the sequence where Govinda does a parody of his own SARKAILIYO KHATIYA, followed by Salman showing him a few steps of JUST CHILL which Govinda then tries to impersonate in his own impeccable style. What a magical moment merging Dhawans old and new formula in to one. The entire movie is littered with such moments and Dhawans gags range from dialogue-based gags (which work the best) to slap-stick, toilet humour and plain old charm which there is dollops of. Ultimately Dhawan has delivered what can arguable be called one of the “greatest comic shows” in recent times. Priyadarshan tries with BHAAGAM BHAG where he presented Govinda with Akshay Kumar, but here Govinda wasn’t given ample scope to perform bar a few scenes and it was clear that this was an Akshay-Priyan film with Govinda supporting. With PARTNER it’s clear that this is Salman Khan’s gift to his dear friend Govinda and Govinda is just as much the leading man here as Salman. Comparisons are inevitable, and I would say that Govinda has a slight edge over Salman, though this is no surprise given even the Big B couldn’t keep up with Govinda however note that Salman has given one of his most crowd-pleasing performances in recent times as well cementing everything he stands for. David Dhawan….have fun laughing all the way to the bank…again!
The performances in the movie are absolutely entertaining to the maximum. Salman Khan gives an effortless performance which personifies and cements Salman Khan’s star status. It’s clear and evident with PARTNER that he is not going anywhere anytime soon. He looks better than ever, and performs his comic scenes with a sense of care-free insane madness. There are scenes which ONLY Salman Khan could’ve pulled off. Just note the scene where he sits there and eats Icecreams as he talks to the photograph on his laptop, or the scene where he spoofs himself and his image in the media as he starts stripping a the airport-priceless. Even those that don’t like Salman Khan much cannot deny that the actor is at his charming best here and does every bit ample justice to Will Smith’s stylish and humorous turn in HITCH. What surprising here is that Salman doesn’t go overboard in some of the crucial scenes, and his bonding with the kid was natural as well, though this is something Salman has always been good at since JAB PYAAR KISISE HOTA HAI. He dances like a dream, and keeps up with Govinda every step of the way which is a big enough compliment on it’s own. WELCOME BACK SALLU!
There is a certain magic that Govinda creates when he is in form in a comedy film. His recent comeback films like BHAAGAM BHAG and SALAAM-E-ISHQ have tried to recreate this magic but both have failed in one way or another. Where BHAAGAM BHAG as a film failed to tap in to Govinda’s comic abilities as an actor as well as extracting any kind of chemistry or bonding with his “partner” Akshay Kumar, SALAAM-E-ISHQ presented a rather old-school and energetic Govinda but the film failed to ignite the Box-office. With PARTNER Govinda gets his proper due and comeback. The role is tailor-made for him and gives Govinda the chance to to weave the magic on-screen that only he can. He brings his absolutely blistering blast of energy, impeccable and flawless comic timing, unbeatable dialogue delivery and masala-filled dance steps in full “zor” which leaves the viewer smiling, laughing and giggling in their seats right till the very end.
More importantly, this has to be one of the best “jodi’s” to hit the screens since Sanjay Dutt-Arshad Warsi in the “Munnabhai” series. Where Dhawan’s films have always worked is when there is a “one man’s upmanship” as play between two players, or where there is a bonding between two actors where one is always annoying the other, PARTNER brings in the best of both and the movie reaches heights of comic brilliance in the movies climax sequence which had the entire cinema erupt in to claps and whistles as Govinda asks Salman for help with his honeymoon.
Katrina Kaif is stunning, no doubts about that, and given this is Salman Khan’s home –production(we’re reminded in a rather nice in-joke that only Salman Khan, Dhawan and co. could bring as Sohail Khan makes a guest appearance in a photo-graph which only evoked laughter amongst the most ardent Salman fans). Katrina is required to look beautiful throughout, smile, and wear the sexiest of clothes and she does that with grace and relish.
Rajpal Yadav is sadly given a back-seat. The little comedian has the ability to shoulder a film on his shoulders and stand his own given the right script and character ala CHUP CHUP KE but here he’s a disappointment. The rest of the cast is OK in their parts. A notable mention to Suresh Menon who brings the house down every time he’s on screen doing a take-off which comes across as a cross between Karan Johar and Bobby Darling.
Master Ali Haji who was superlative in both FANAA and TA RA RUM PUM is oncer again fantastic here exuding surprising level of confidence and comic timing as well as sharing some extremely warm yet very real chemistry with Salman Khan.
A very special standing ovation to dialogue writer Sanjay Chhel who springs a comeback out from the blue. Not only has he written the lyrics for the title song and helped with the plot, he has written some of the cleverest, crazy, whacky and absolutely hilarious dialogues for the film as well which the actors mouth to absolute perfection.
Sajid-Wajid deliver what is arguably the best sound track of their entire career. Each and every song in the movie strikes a chord with the viewer and the picturisations captured on lens like a very very colourful spectacle by cameraman Johnny Lal. Bosco-Caesar’s choreography is massy to the core and a treat for the eyes. Right from the addictive title track, SONI DE NAKHRA, DUPATTA TERA NAU RANG DA, and MARIA MARIA. A special mention must be made of Alvira Agnihotri’s extremely colourful and cartoonish wardrobe which oozes class and style. Govinda who is usually known for his crazy warbdrobes gets to wear some very cool suits here, while Salman is given the more cartoony attire with his bright yellow tweety t-shirts and what not.
All up PARTNER is a must-see! The movie is hard NOT to like, and though it falls short of being a comic masterpiece as such, the movie does manage to raise some side-splitting laughs by treating the viewer with a unique partnership. Welcome back Salman and welcome back Govinda! May the good times continue..