From Anees Bazmi – the director of “No Entry” (2005) comes another crazy comedy which centres on miscommunications and misunderstandings. “Welcome” appears to have been made with a bigger budget, boasts of a stellar cast and contains special effects that gives it the look and flavour of a cartoon. It does not however, replicate the pace and energy of its predecessor; partly because the main characters played by Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, recede into the background.
The more robust characters – the gangland figures, seem at first to be of secondary importance but come to dominate the narrative. The sense of balance and focus that Bazmee displayed in his earlier film isn’t evident to the same degree in this venture.
There are some amusing sequences in this story about two mobster brothers (Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor) who plan to arrange a decent marriage for their sister. Patekar plays an outrageous don who nurtures a secret desire to become a movie star and whose personality swings comically between the sedate and the manic. His uncouth brother – Manju has a penchant for painting, bailing up his models at gun-point then setting up his easel amidst the chaos so he can paint the scene. These eccentric bad guys with their uncharacteristic yearnings have a lot of comedic scope which is realised episodically. The part when Uday (Nana Patekar) gets an opportunity to play the romantic lead in a movie alongside a beautiful starlet (Mallika Sherawat) is hugely entertaining because they are such an unlikely couple.
Filmed in the typical clinches of sizzling passion during the ‘Kiya Kiya’ number with Patekar really hamming it up, the sequence is a lot of fun. Or there’s the instance when gormless Manju paints a ludicrous picture of what appears to be a donkey standing on top of a horse and has it analysed “in all sincerity” before an audience of art experts. What’s missing in “Welcome” however, can be traced to a patchy screenplay.
Akshay Kumar’s character (Rajiv) starts off being mildly interesting. A paragon of virtue, he is looking for an equally high-minded bride and finds her in the form of Sanjana (Katrina Kaif) – the sister of gangsters Uday and Manju. This of course is one of the many errors in a comedy of errors compounded by a string of rash decisions made by Rajiv’s uncle. Paresh Rawal is effective in the role of the uncle but the character is not a new one for him – being a cross between the father in “Cheeni Kum” and Baburao from “Hera Pheri”. In terms of interest and humour, both Rajiv and his uncle are overshadowed by the more creative and quirkier characters of the mobsters.
At the beginning of the film, we get the impression that Rajiv will be the focus of the screenplay and that his romance with Sanjana will be a significant/fun part of the story. This expectation may be as much a product of the Kaif/Kumar pairing in recent hit movies as it is a response to the opening of the film when Sanjana in a watchable role reversal, rescues Rajiv from a fire. There’s a courtship sequence, some love songs but nothing really sparkles of the romantic front. The writers seem to have been torn between the necessity of the staying with the core story and the temptation to digress and create more interesting stories relating to the gangland figures. After intermission the screenplay is well and truly skewed as Rajiv and Sanjana take back-seat in all the crazy developments relating to the gangsters.
It’s a wacky-caper comedy that doesn’t hang together very well but offers some laughs. A faster pace – more twists and turns without the necessity of playing “lip-service” (excuse pun) to romance, may have given a more satisfying viewing experience.