The first glimpse I caught of Anees Bazmi’s marrying-into-the-mafia caper Welcome was an ad on a small TV screen by a bank of elevators in an office park in Bombay, just before the film opened. I normally wouldn’t rush to a movie like this, with all the promise of madcap slapstick, but there on that little screen I spied Nana Patekar frolicking in a musical number with Mallika Sherawat. Nana dancing? Nana in a comedy? Must see for me!
Nana’s been a baddie on screen for so long that I always get a little thrill seeing him step out and do comedy roles, like Taxi Number 9211. In Welcome, he plays Uday Shetty, mafia don and wanna-be actor, as well as brother to Majnu (Anil Kapoor) and Sanjana (Katrina Kaif). All Uday and Majnu want to do, when they’re not doing mafia business, is to get Sanjana married off to a respectable family. Enter Rajiv (Akshay Kumar), the loveable and goofy nephew of Dr. Ghungroo, who also wants to marry off his young charge to a respectable family. The rest of the movie is about how Sanjana and Rajiv fall in love and want to marry, with their families and super-don RDX (Feroz Khan) getting the way.
The movie was filmed in UAE and South Africa, but in spite of the jet-setting patina, the two big scenes at the end are sloppy in their denouement and both go on way too long. Surely I can’t be the only one who gets restless and twitchy during these kind of unending chases? Ugh.
There’s a slight diversion as Uday is conned into thinking he’s replacing Suniel Shetty in a movie directed by Vijay Raaz, but aside from a few smirk-inducing moments, the concept just lays there.
The saving grace – for me – was the music, and its song picturizations. There are a few Roger Rabbit-ish touches in the closing credits song, but the real fun is watching Nana shake a leg, first in the item number Hoth Rasiley with the amazingly luscious Malaika Arora in jeweled bra-top and billowing orange harem pants/skirt, and then in the Kiya Kiya number with Mallika Sherawat. Nana appears in the first song in a wine-colored velvet jacket and a long pirate headscarf, in the latter, in a Bluffmaster-y red and white floral shirt over jeans, sporting a yellow gerbera daisy over his right ear as he charms Mallika, and later in a tight green t-shirt, knit cap and ripped jeans. Perhaps not ‘age appropriate’ clothes for your average 57-year-old, but then again, hamara Vishwanath is not average by a long shot, and anyway, isn’t 57 the new 37?
See it or skip it?
Unless you’re a big fan of one of the leads, you could miss this one and not regret it. Nana’s great fun, but even he can’t carry Welcome alone.