CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA (aka CC2C) is Nikhil Advani's third directorial outing after the 2003 mega-blockbuster Kal Ho Naa Ho and 2007's Salaam-E-Ishq. Starring Akshay Kumar and Deepika Padukone, CC2C has undergone one of the more intense publicity campaigns in recent times, spearheaded by Rohan Sippy and Warner Bros.
Unfortunately for Advani, who rocketed out of the gates with KHNH, has seen himself vanish into the vast oblivion of Bollywood with a rather disgraceful performance in CC2C, a film that is touted as "Bollywood's first true Kung Fu flick." It looks like the makers have broadened the meaning of "true Kung Fu flick" to include any chaotic group of hybrid Indian-Chinese characters aimlessly trying to force dry humor amidst a clutter of fight scenes littered throughout.
Undermined by a very stale script, CC2C has close to nothing to offer other than a few big names and some appeasing visuals of China's rich landscape. The lackluster attempt pours through the film's crew. Editing seems to be non-existent, as the two and a half hour running time only adds what seem to be eons to the painful experience. Fortunately, the action sequences have been directed well.
Not surprisingly, Advani hooks up with a number of talented composers to set up yet another enjoyable soundtrack. The songs serve as a fresh escape from the otherwise monotonously dull screenplay.
Deepika Padukone's presence is very softly felt. Clearly over-powered by her co-star, her dramatized antics and exhaustive performance appear rehearsed. There is no balance between the leads. The supporting cast camouflages well, in that it mirrors the sub-mediocrity of the rest of the film.
If you showed me Kal Ho Na Ho yesterday and CC2C today, I would have told you that the commander-in-chief of CC2C was an imposter. At least with Salaam-E-Ishq there was still a discernable level of clarity in the execution. It has all come crashing down in CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA. You've been warned.
Aakash Gandhi is Managing Editor and Senior Writer for PlanetBollywood.com. He also freelances with AVS TV Network at avstv.com