Starring: Diljit Dosanjh,  Karan  Johar, Boman Irani, Lara Dutta, Ritesh Deshmukh

Directed by: Chakri Toleti

Rating: **(two stars)

First things first.This is not a proper feature film but more of a promotional pitch for the IFFA awards. The main thrust of the narrative—if we may call it that—is to spotlight the awards through a  fictional plot about two losers who get a chance to go on stage.

The initial sparring between Diljit Dosanjh and Sonakshi Sinha as they descend from their hometown into the sophisticated bustle of NY, is steeped in an acid tongue.

Writer Dhiraj Rattan and director Chakri Toleti have a thankless job of weaving a story around the staged event.And to that extent, they do a competent job of threading the off-stage maneuverings at New York into the antics of the wannabe star from Punjab and the dress designer from Gujarat.

Diljit Dosanjh plays his Punjabi-bumpkin card with a infectious gusto. He is the life and breath of the proceedings injecting every scene, no matter how mundanely written with an effusive warmth. Dosanjh reveals a rare ability to laugh at himself.It comes in handy in a film that is really short of intellectual discourse and high on thoughtless laughs.

Welcome To New York revels in corny contrivances. Lara Dutta looking smoking-hot in her colourful businesses dresses plays the villain with relish. Her scenes with Boman Irani who plays the IFFA organizer,  could have been more elaborately written.We get a sense of their hostility only through the two actors’ propensity to transcend the trail of trivia that follows the protagonists to the last.

It’s Karan Johar’s double act as Karan and Arjun which brings the house down.As Karan,  he plays himself.Camp and fashion conscious sneering at everyone around for their lack of familiarity with high-end snobbery. The other part of a vengeful mobster is played with a tongue-in-cheek solemnity that dares us to laugh.

By the time the thin plot closes in on its ersatz climax the narrative is a messy game of mistaken identities, with the two  KaranJohar huffing and puffing, bringing the house down. If the truth be told, a lot of the writing here is purely puerile, meant to prop up the comings and goings of stars at the IIFA. The stars glide across the film’s skyline with the intention of providing star value.

Some of the cameos, like the one featuring Aditya Roy Kapoor, are cute. Others, like Salman Khan’s half-baked interpolatory hurrah, just seems to be thrust into the glamour-driven event-oriented plot for the sake of compensating for the absence of true inspiration.

This film is fun as long as Dosanjh and Johar get to innovate and explore the ‘dork’ side of comedy about two losers who come together to prove that 2 can do it better than 1.

I wish the screenplay was better written.And that the narrative didn’t try so hard to convince us that the film has not been made to justify the presence of the entire Bollywood fraternity under one roof.

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