Sometimes it’s fun to see a Bollywood film… especially something like Aaja Nachle. It’s modern, fun, colorful, and has some unusual topics (for Bollywood at least). Anyone familiar with movies like Strictly Ballroom, Dance with Me, and Chocolat will like this film. Madhuri Dixit (the star with the BIG smile) is even more gorgeous and fit than in her ’90s roles. I always feel that her dancing is very natural, usually exceeding her acting. (She is a Kathak-trained dancer, and you can see the influences in Aaja Nachle.) This film centers on NRI dancer/choreographer Dia who returns to Simla (her small hometown) hoping to save the Ajanta Theater. The place, though dear to her, is falling apart. Politicians, businessmen, and most of the town want to replace it with a mall.
Aside from Madhuri, there are a LARGE troupe of actors and dancers that show a LOT of talent! These include the always fabulous Konkona Sen Sharma, young Kunal Kapoor, Raghuvir Yadav (a great character actor seen in Salaam Bombay, Earth, and Water), charming Akshaye Khanna, and Irffan Khan (terrific in Maqbool and The Namesake). The local MP (Akshaye Khanna) tells Dia that if she can put on a successful dance show using ONLY town folks, Ajanta will be saved. However, because of past events/gossip, most of Simla thinks Dia (and by extension- dance) are BAD influences.
Dia decides to do a song/dance version of the classic tragic love story Layla-Majnu. A local hoodlum named Imran (Kunal Kapoor) is chosen as Majnu, while the tomboy Anokhi (Konkona Sen Sharma) keeps auditioning for Layla. She has no talent, but is crazy about Imran. Konkona is great at playing tough, clueless, then later… vulnerable. Joing this odd pair of lovers are a shy government officer, an uptight politician, and a lovesick retaurant owner. And let’s not forget- the members of this motley crew ALL have to dance!
The songs in this film fit VERY naturally with the actions (as it should be). The sets, costumes, and dances will draw you in (for sure). Madhuri portrays an independent, strong lady quite naturally. Konkona and Kunal have good chemistry, and also make good dance pair. The final show is shot differently than the rest of the movie (on purpose, said the director). The ageless tale of Layla-Majnu is very well-executed by ALL the actors/dancers- STUNNING!!!