Most stories sound interesting on paper or when narrated in 10/15 minutes flat. But when you watch the full-blown cinematic version, you realize why most Hindi films fall flat on their face. Sujoy Ghosh’s ALADIN promises the moon, but what you get is a mere flicker. This fantasy had the trappings to transport you to fantasyland, but… Seriously, Sujoy could’ve run his imagination wild and come up with a film that would’ve made the child in you jump, scream and clap with glee. But 15/20 minutes into the film and you realize that ALADIN is merely a visual spectacle. A film that lacks soul! After having watched ALADIN, I too desire three wishes… Wish 1: Henceforth, actors shouldn’t ask for scripts before they sign on the dotted line; Wish 2: Producers should act more responsibly. They shouldn’t be mere moneybags, but have creative control too; Wish 3: Directors and writers should stop taking the intelligent viewer for granted. Will a genie appear and fulfil my wishes? I doubt! Aladin Chatterjee [Riteish Deshmukh] lives in the city of Khwaish, an orphan who has been bullied since childhood by Kasim [Sahil Khan] and his gang. But his life changes when Jasmine [Jacqueline Fernandez] gives him a magic lamp because it lets loose the genie Genius [Amitabh Bachchan]. Desperate to grant him three wishes and seek the end of his contract with the Magic Lamp, Genius makes Aladin’s life difficult until the real threat looms on the horizon: the ex-genie Ringmaster [Sanjay Dutt]. Why does Ringmaster want to kill Aladin? What is the dark secret about Aladin’s past that Genius is carrying? Let’s give the credit where it’s due. ALADIN starts with a bang, with the initial portions holding a lot of promise. But no sooner does the genie appears, he breaks into a song and you realize that ALADIN is no different from those mundane films churned out week after week. Sadly, ALADIN only slides downwards after this point. Sure, there’re some interesting moments, but you can actually count those sequences.
The problem is not with the story, but the screenplay [also penned by Sujoy Ghosh]. It rests on absurdities. Okay, one expects absurdities in a fantasy, you can be pardoned for it, but at least they should have the power to keep you hooked. In this case, they don’t! You can’t overlook two major flaws in the writing… One, Amitabh refrains from revealing the past to Riteish, till Sanjay Dutt arrives on the scene and spills the beans. Two, the flashback portion – which resulted in Riteish’s parents losing their lives – is haphazard. It’s not easy to comprehend. Also, the entire track, when Amitabh loses his powers and becomes an ordinary mortal, looks gimmicky. At the same time, it looks weird when Amitabh fights an entire army of Sanju’s henchmen in the end. It gets very formulaic at this point. Not just that, even the climax is ridiculous. Sujoy Ghosh’s screenplay is bad, to put it bluntly. Given the kind of stars and budget at his disposal, the director should’ve come up with a slick entertainer, but ALADIN comes across as a feeble clone of a poor Hollywood film. Like his last outing HOME DELIVERY, this one too is high on gloss, but low on content. The visual effects are excellent at places, but tacky at times. Vishal-Shekhar’s music is strictly okay. However, too many songs in the initial reels act as roadblocks. The cinematography is top notch. ALADIN belongs to Riteish, who’s easy on the eyes. The best part is, he looks the character and enacts it without going overboard. He’s at his natural best here. Surprisingly, Amitabh Bachchan is over the top this time, which puts you off after a point. Sanjay Dutt has two standard expressions from start to end. Jacqueline Fernandez gets no scope, but she looks gorgeous nonetheless. Ratna Pathak Shah is wasted. Ditto for Victor Banerjee. And what is a wonderful actor like Mita Vashisht doing in this film? Saahil Khan and Arif Zakaria are okay.
On the whole, ALADIN is a terrible waste of a terrific opportunity. Hugely disappointing!