Jhoom Barabar Jhoom opens amid the throngs in London’s Waterloo Station, where we see Rikki (Abhishek Bachchan) juggling shady deals by cell phone when he meets posh Alvira (Preity Zinta). Waiting in the food court for their fiancés (Lara Dutta and Bobby Deol), they pass the time by trading love stories. A mismatched couple, indeed, but as they rhapsodize about their amours, their mutual attraction builds.
Director Shaad Ali’s previous film was the awesome Bunty aur Babli, and Jhoom can’t help but pale in comparison. The featherweight plot meanders, although there is a reviving switcheroo after the intermission. Zinta excels in romantic comedy, and Deol and Dutta give their best performances ever under Ali’s nurture. But, Jhoom is purloined by Bachchan, his long oiled hair held back by a child’s headband, wearing flamboyant outfits dripping with bling, embroidery and the ace of spades (courtesy of designer Aki Narula), rattling on in a slangy dialect filled with comic catch phrases. He even dances in character.
Hindi films are densely self-referential: Rikki has a Bunty aur Babli ring tone. However, Jhoom‘s unique selling point is the first film pairing of Deol and Bachchan, whose fathers, Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan, starred in many films together. Inevitably, the sons will end up on a motorbike with a sidecar tooling along to “Yeh Dosti,” the iconic song from their fathers’ classic Sholay. Rattling down a list of wax figures of famous Indians at Madame Tussaud’s, Rikki mentions “Amit-ji”his dadbut Amitabh is also in the movie, singing the title song at Waterloo in a crazy patchwork frock coat, acting as a benevolent deity overseeing the romantic fates of the characters. The songs are extravagantly staged, and one number, “Ticket to Hollywood,” thrillingly makes use of the most recognizable Parisian landmarks.
Jhoom Barabar Jhoom is, so far, the best of 2007’s mainstream Hindi films. For all of the family reunions, however, it disappoints a bit in comparison to the director’s last effort. Still, it’s diverting.