36 China Town Reviews
From the opening in Goa, this seems to be a film about the relentlessly meaningless problems of the entitled, the rich, the decadent, and the pointless. That is, the fat-cat parasites who live in lavish settings in the resort city of Goa, India. Gambling seems to be one of the main tools for separating fools from their money. As the film progresses one sees other means of separating the money: exotic dancers, gigolos, corruption in the film industry, and so on. Playboy/gigolo Rocky seems to be at the centre of everything; we'll see how long that lasts. He seems to enjoy staying with Sonia Chang at 36 China Town, the address/name of her mansion.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, Raj made a music video which a director likes. However, he blew his savings making it, and no longer has the 1 million he needs to bribe the director to get a lead role. Priya thought she had a boyfriend interested in marrying her. Instead, he wants from her father a couple of million to start a business; if the business goes well, perhaps another million will lead to a marriage.
Priya and Raj (after a rocky start) 'adopt' a missing child in order to collect a 2.5 million reward. They just have to travel to Goa to collect it from the child's putative mother, Mrs. Sonia Chang. Unfortunately for them, the ultra-wealthy Sonia gets murdered 60 minutes into the film.
An alternate thread follows two hopeless gamblers through their ups and downs. Major losses, good-sized wins, bad blows to family fortunes are detailed. Sounds like possible homicide motives.
Priya and Raj find 36 China Town. The lights are dim and the doors unlocked. Bad signs? They go in anyway. They discover the body. They call in the murder anonymously, but Raj gets apprehended by Inspector Karan when he goes back to the scenel. He manages for a bit to keep Priya and the baby out of it.
Meanwhile, one of the gamblers finds body parts in one of his suitcases. Great stuff. Priya gets noticed, then arrested. The gambler and his wife get arrested when the body parts are discovered. Karan sorts things out. He finds the other gambler and asks to talk to his wife as well. Ah, the construction of lies is such a convoluted thing! Kana arrests the second gambler as well.
Kana lets his seven suspects go, and tells them not to leave Chinatown's Silver Jubilee.
Lovely ending. Three stars goes to four.
Cinematography: 8/10 Pleasant to the eye for the most part. The reverse video passages seem both needless and repellant.
Sound: 4/10 Yikes, major problems here. First, the subtitles are absent in passages. Second, where they are present, they tend to be sixty or so frames lagging behind the video. Third, conversations tend to have the hollow sound associated with badly miked actors.
Acting: 7/10 Reasonable. Liked the performance of Akshaye Khanna, as I did in Aap Ki Khatir.
Screenplay: 7/10 Needs compression. The story does move along, but has too much filler.
Musical Numbers: 7/10 Mixed bag. The single biggest reason I watch Bollywood films is the presence of good musical numbers. The dancing, the vibrant singing, the frequent humor, and the good-hearted silliness are a treat. In this film, though, there is way too much use of audio filters that cancel out the quality of full frequency singing. The filtering delivers castrated mush; the usual richness is defeated. It's like dropping back to 1960s audio quality. Some of the later ones were better.
a nice comedy and then a nice thriller. liked it, a one time watch, could have been better.
Date: 6 May 2006
Over at: 12.00am
Theatre: Minerva, Mumbai
Seat No: C14, C15
Name: 36 CHINA TOWN