At one point in Aladin, a few of the characters sit around a table trying to recount the events that have recently unfolded around them.
As the genie Genius, played by Amitabh Bachchan and Aladin, played by Ritesh Deshmukh explain, the women keep interrupting with ek Minute, ek Minute, muhje zara smajhne dijeye. I felt exactly the same.
Aladin, directed by Sujoy Ghosh, is a reworking of a beloved children’s story but it’s so convoluted that you can barely follow who is doing what to whom and why.
Ghosh, who also co-wrote the story, sets the story in a fantasy town called Khawaish. Aladin, obviously in Harry Potter mode, is an orphan—his parents were killed by a baddie in boots named The Ringmaster, played by Sanjay Dutt.
Aladin is relentlessly teased about his name and asked to rub lamps. And then one day, he rubs a magic one and Genius appears, insistent that Aladin quickly make 3 wishes so the good genie can go into retirement.
Meanwhile the Ringmaster, who says he only wants Sab Kuch, also has evil designs on the lamp.
I couldn’t follow why but the Ringmaster wants to be a genie again. There is also a comet that only appears in a million years and a magic mirror, which the Ringmaster tells us: genies ki duniya ka google hai. Are you still with me?
Of course a fairy tale doesn’t work on logic. These plot contortions and confusions would hardly matter if Ghosh were able to enchant us.
But too much of the film goes into Aladin’s dreary love angle with Jasmin, played by the intriguingly plastic debutant Jacqueline Fernandez. Ghosh and his team work hard to create an alternative universe in Khwaish. Bachchan, in full-on rockstar mode, infuses some life into the proceedings and Ritesh makes a sweetly touching nerd.
But all their enthusiasm and special effects wizardry is let down by the half-baked story. Aladin never soars. See it if you must.