Director: Chakri Toleti
Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)
Bollywood sheds its inhibitions and takes broad swipes at itself in Welcome To New York, a mindless yet harmless comedy built upon incidents that take place in and around a glitzy awards show held in the Big Apple. Truth be told, parts of the film are fun. If only all of it was equally so, this piece of unpretentious whimsy might have been a far breezier ride. But it is a big, imposing IF that stares us in the face as the film unfolds at a jaunty pace.
Karan Johar and Riteish Deshmukh, both playing themselves, not only spar with each other as hosts of the said event, but also gamely allow some of the jokes to be on them. The whole idea here is not to take oneself seriously no matter how important you are in the Bollywood pecking order.
A large portion of the mirth that Welcome To New York generates springs from this casual surrender to the demands of the enterprise. KJo ridicules his own brand of cinema. Deshmukh makes light of his status as an actor who does not land enough roles. Nor is that all. Rana Daggubati, trapped in the Baahubali mode, is at the receiving end of no end of ribbing. But nobody more so than Aditya Roy Kapur - he, too, plays himself. He is caught in the act of doling out acting tips to anybody who cares to listen: a fantasy to beat all fantasies.
It is a crazy, crazy world out here and Welcome To New York is a comic romp that rests on the premise that the audience will get all the inside jokes that the film is liberally peppered with. There is no reason why they won't. But in the absence of a coherent screenplay and a storyline that can go beyond delivering easy chuckles, there is far too much in this film that is widely capricious without yielding the desired effect.
Directed by Telugu filmmaker Chakri Toleti, Welcome To New York, despite clocking a tad under two hours, tends to outstay its welcome. The reason is all too obvious: more than being a rounded film, it is a bunch of gags spliced together to create the story of an odd pair - a Bollywood-obsessed recovery agent (Diljit Dosanjh) who is terribly incompetent at his job and a fashion designer (Sonakshi Sinha) desperate for a toehold in the movie industry win a contest and make it to New York to be a part of the aforementioned awards gala.
As they bump into Bollywood personalities on their NYC sojourn, they wade into a series of chaotic events. While Dosanjh and Sonakshi get into the swing of things quickly enough and appear to be enjoying the experience, it is Karan Johar who is under the spotlight. In fact, he plays a double role - one as the filmmaker that he is in real life, and the other as a philandering Arjun, another inside joke couched in a plot detail.
The Karan Arjun and Baahubali jokes just about pass muster at times, but the relentless joviality on show turns a bit excessive at others. While it looks like an agreeable enough idea to craft a zany film about Bollywood's predilections, the final outcome isn't particularly impactful. Welcome To New York is far too haphazard to hold together as a cohesive film over its entire runtime.
The Dosanjh-Sonakshi track is often allowed to meander aimlessly, as a result of which neither of the two characters assume convincing proportions. Ditto for the Karan-Riteish banter, which yields some of the more passable moments of the film. The two in tandem simply do not get enough play to be able to leave a lasting mark on the fate of Welcome To New York.
Welcome To New York also has Boman Irani, Lara Dutta and Sushant Singh Rajput in appearances of varying lengths, but they have only limited scope of spicing up the proceedings.
A quirky concept delivered in half-baked form, the film does its bit to plug the awards show that it is about - Welcome To New York is event management company Wizcraft's first foray into movie production - but that purpose would have just as well been served by a less fanciful advertising film.
Watch Welcome To New York only if you are, in the manner of the Diljit Dosanjh character, incorrigibly hung up on Bollywood, and can take anything that the industry offers without cringing. But if you aren't, this film will, at best, be intermittently worth your time. Keep that in mind - not that you're advised in any way to take your grey cells along - when you make the trip to the multiplex.