2005, NR, 180 min. Directed by Anees Bazmee. Starring Anil Kapoor, Salman Khan, Fardeen Khan, Bipasha Basu, Lara Dutta, Esha Deol, Celina Jaitley, Boman Irani.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 2, 2005
Bollywood’s standard melo-kitsch – vibrantly colorful romance, singing, dancing, and general good cheer – have always struck me as something like those old Clambake-era Elvis vehicles had they been hitched to Douglas Sirk’s yellow melodrama cab and then art-designed by a giddy, pre-palimony Liberace while Bob Fosse whipped dancing girls with a mirror-ball-tipped riding crop. That’s as close a description of the Bollywood aesthetic as I’m willing to venture minus a quick visit to Kali, but I think it speaks to Mumbai’s (Bombay back in the day) filmic overload accurately. No Entry, a winningly goofy romantic comedy, stars the charismatic male leads Kishen (Kapoor) and Prem (Salman Khan), who are married to sassy, sexy wives Kaajal (Dutta) and Pooja (Deol), respectively. As often happens in Bollywood romances, the couples find their love lives sorely tested when a libidinous ultravixen, who has a figure straight out of Adolescent Male Self-Gratification Fantasies 101 and sports the unlikely moniker of Bobby (Basu), oozes into their lives like a dark wet dream. Lord Krishna help poor Kishen, whose straight-arrow business persona masks a genuine love for his inappropriately jealous wife, Kaajal (at one point she hysterically fantasizes about catching him smooching with the family’s marginally lower-caste, but earthily erotic, housemaid). No such qualms for the hunky Prem, who sharks his toothy way through the roiling dance floors of the metropolitan night seducing all in his path (as in almost all Bollywood films, intimacy rarely goes beyond the chaste pecks and knowing glances of Beach Blanket Bingo), and who before long convinces Kishen and their mutual photographer pal Sunny (Fardeen Khan) to join in what seems to be heading toward not only the realm of the senses but also The Seven Year Itch. But we’re a long way from Hollywood, and over the course of No Entry’s three-hour running time the plot becomes increasingly redolent of The Twilight Zone on nitrous oxide. There are tawdry, exciting, and full-fledged musical production numbers that arise out of what I surmise to be a culturally (and artistically) inherent need to get the characters’ inner dialogues out in the open and slathered in haute couture’s haughtiest while innumerable stunning dancing girls flood in from all sides. Writer-turned-director Bazmee has crafted a relatively smart and snarky war of the sexes minus the sex but with plenty of juicily hammy performances and enough outrageous one-liners, sight gags, and mistaken-identity yuks to make even the most xenophobic antisubtitler stifle at least a dozen smirks. It’s almost impossible not to fall for No Entry’s simple if frequently naive charms, which are by turns entirely true to Eros as well as being just plain laugh-out-loud funny. Add to that the bodice-ripping machismo of Salman Khan’s hyperbolic song-and-dance number, "Just Love Me" – ’cause, you know, the woeful Adonis just wants to get as much of that good, good lovin’ as possible – and you’re in for 180 minutes of contemporary Indian filmmaking that may leave you a tad puzzled but nonetheless beaming from ear-to-ear to low-rise Dolce & Gabbana pre-destroyed, Day-Glo sari.