Week after week, critics lament the lack of original work in Bollywood. But after watching Aao Wish Karein, an agonizingly boring rework of Tom Hanks' Big, I wished that the makers had been less original and copied more diligently.
Like in Big, here too a troubled 13-year-old boy wishes that he were big and wakes up to find that his wish has come true.
Mickey, played by Aftab Shivdasani who has also co-written and produced the film, has a slightly alarming crush on Mitika, the local beauty played by Aamna Sharif, but she dismisses him as a kid. He also finds out that his father has always been so cold toward him because he's adopted.
Mickey weeps and hopes for overnight growth and Hitchcock the fairy, played by Johnny Lever looking like a bargain basement Amitabh Bachchan from Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, grants the wish. What follows is romance and heartbreak for the characters and unmitigated tedium for viewers.
Big, released in 1988, had a fairy tale-like quality. It captured the vulnerability and innocence of boyhood.
Aao Wish Karein, directed by Glen Baretto, struggles to create the same magic. But it just doesn't work because the film's entire focus is the romance between an older woman and a small boy, which if you pause to think about it, is frankly icky.
In Big, Hanks made a touching and sweetly bumbling grown-up. But Aftab, who is in almost every frame, plays the child-adult as moronic.
There are also at least four mentions of his big biceps. Amana mostly poses with wind-blown hair. Her styling is unintentionally comical. As is the dialogue.
At one point, Mickey tries to tell Mitika the truth by pointing out the location of the wishing well, which made his wish come true. Of course it's no longer there. She looks in the direction and remarks: "well, well, well".
Interspersed through these lame situations are life-lessons imparted by Hitchcock.
In the end, he says: "Impossible Kya Hai. Bas Mangna Padta Hai". I can personally attest that this isn't true.
All I asked for was a passably decent film but Aao Wish Karein couldn't even manage that. Steer Clear.