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Emeryville, Calif. — No one goes to a Salman Khan film expecting high art. The muscle-bound Bollywood heartthrob is good for a few jokes in vulgar yet entertaining dance moves and a sort of loutish insouciance — qualities that have managed to catapult his last few films (Dabangg, Wanted) to massive box-office success.
So it’s no surprise that Ready, a wafer-thin romantic comedy from Anees Bazmee, a filmmaker known for dumb-and-dumber knucklehead comedies, fails to make a mark artistically. But the film has already broken box-office records and is even on track to unseat 3 Idiots as India’s all-time opener, a feat made even more impressive since it didn’t open on a holiday weekend.
In keeping with current trends shifting away from spurious Hollywood knockoffs, Ready is an authorized remake of a 2008 hit Telugu film.
Khan is teamed with Asin, a South Indian actress, for a mad caper set somewhere in Thailand: Prem (Khan) is a confirmed bachelor and womanizer arranged to marry Pooja, an Indian girl arriving from overseas. But at the airport, the enterprising Sanjana (Asin), herself on the run from a bad arranged marriage into an organized crime family, overhears Prem, sees an opportunity and tells Prem she’s the girl he’s waiting for.
That’s the kickoff for a confusing and only sporadically funny set of circumstances that, no surprise, wraps up with a happy ending. The film isn’t completely without its charms, though. Khan’s cockiness and the allure of Asin — an award-winning actress who is a major star in Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu films — have a certain appeal.
The film’s producer, T-Series, has taken full advantage of Thailand’s generous shooting incentives, setting the film in a series of unnamed but lovely, sultry Thai locales. And the songs in Ready are sexy and even clever, as in Character Dheela, which finds Khan and Asin reenacting classic romantic moments from old Hindi films with tongue-in-cheek. But a few thrills are not enough to make up for two-plus hours of inanity.
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