The childhood tale from 1001 Nights of a boy with a magic lamp, a genie, wishes, a beautiful woman, a powerful sorcerer and a fight between good and evil, is reworked for today and Bollywood, and a magical concoction results.
Sujoy Ghosh last satisfied immensely with Jhankaar Beats, and returns to direct Aladin. This fantasy tale is set in Khwaish, a town somewhere in the north of India, or maybe in your imagination! There are towering minars and domes and Arabian Nights like cobbled alleyways and in these streets we find Aladin Chatterjee, who had the “misfortune” of being thus named by his now dead parents. He grows up with the taunts of his classmates, enough lamps thrown at him for rubbing, and a drubbing that inevitably follows. Aladin’s misfortunes start taking an abrupt different turn when the beautiful Jasmine shows up as an exchange student and he is smitten at first sight. However, far away in a fantasy bleak landscape, the Ringmaster is busy planning Aladin’s downfall and he is blissfully unaware of all this. Then Jasmine gifts Aladin a lamp, the one that has been waiting for its rightful owner for aeons!
A rub-a-dub-dub later a wisp of mist pours out, and swirls and grows and slowly takes on the shape of the outrageously flamboyant Genius! The director plays the moment out for all its worth, knowing that all and one are waiting to see the larger than life genie, and who but the larger than life Amitabh can fit that role? He grants Aaldin three boons, and each one has to be acknowledged with a celestial BOOM! Into the proceedings interest is mixed in by way of Ratna Pathak Shah, as the local dhaba owner, a poor cook, and confidant of Aladin.
Every fairy tale must include the wicked, and here it is the Ringmaster – Sunjay Dutt in a well suited and well acted role. His circus includes many uniquely reworked usual circus dwellers; a knife thrower, a clown/acrobat, a tough guy, and a woman in a seductive mask, adept at flame throwing! They are all out to get the lamp, deal with Aladin and to capture the power of a comet hurtling towards earth. Suitably told for children of all ages, the story has romance, drama, good, evil, magic, moments of comic genius, and enough suspense and action to keep all ages happy.
I will commend Sujoy Ghosh for several things. He has not compromised his story for any reason. The special effects are superb and well matched with fantasy tales like the Chronicles of Narnia, the casting is most appropriate without much pandering to star quotient of the actors. The story, while essentially an age old tale, has enough novelty and uniqueness to keep one completely engaged. The music is appropriate and allows Mr. Bachchan to showcase his talents as a showman extraordinaire!
Ritesh Deshmukh shines as the college going naive and idealistic Aladin, Jacqueline Fernandez is beautiful and quite suited to her role, Sanjay Dutt has put his heart into playing the baddie here, and does exceptionally well. Mr. B is outstanding, and delighted the child in this reviewer and the children in the theater. His moments of initial interaction with Ritesh are outrageously funny – “Aladin?”. “Yes, lekin woh wala nahin; Aladin Chatterjee!” “Bengali?” he asks with a deadpan disbelief! All in all this is a sweet tale of triumph of good over evil, with all the magical trappings of an epic fantasy. Highly recommended.