The pathologically lying, commitment-phobe hero (let’s call him Non-com), the bromance between him and his harrowed friend, a man married to a fiend of a woman, the multiple women who fall for him, a sympathetic former girlfriend (Preity Zinta) with triplets, and finally, the woman who matches his Non-com bone—do you find these characters familiar? Possibly not if you are not into the genre of “time-pass" Hollywood romantic comedies with tenuous connections with reality. In the minds of audiences loyal to the romcom about the Non-com—usually women—a story might already have vapourized.

Happy Ending, written and directed by Krishna D.K. and Raj Nidimoru, is a mishmash of all these ingredients and some safe Hindi film tricks. The look is in place—slick cinematography capturing the best of locations across the American west coast.

Listless and phoney though it is as cinema, Happy Ending has some chuckle-inducing moments, and one secret weapon in Govinda.

Saif Ali Khan plays Yudi the Non-com, a writer with a best-selling book that launched six years ago. He lives off that fame in Los Angeles, driving a fancy red car, wooing various women at traffic signals and bars, but unsure of how to break up with the one who seems pathetically in love with him (Vishakha, played by Kalki Koechlin), and drinking with his friend Montu (Ranvir Shorey), whenever the hag that Montu’s wife is, lets him out of her sight.

When his agent spells out the doom that awaits him, Yudi, who often talks to a bearded, oversized version of himself at his home (Khan in another role), meets Armaan (Govinda), an ageing Hindi film star who is in LA for six-packs and a facelift. Armaan is an endearingly hilarious fossil, every bit the deluded star and extremely funny for it. Armaan asks Yudi to string a romcom for him, using various Hollywood film scenes. It’s Yudi’s only way out, because the new star of his publisher is Aanchal (Ileana D’Cruz), an Indian author of verbose romances. Yudi and Aanchal meet, and realize they are well-matched in their pursuit of the no-strings-attached romance. Will they fall in love? Who will change, the man or the woman, or both?

Khan is all swagger, and generally a mismatch for the character’s shallowness. He is at pains to make something out of Yudi, to give him some gravitas and wit. None of Yudi’s trials or dialogues made me laugh; there were no clincher moments to the character. D’Cruz, pretty and designer-happy, does a reasonable job as the assured young author. Koechlin, a dentist, is monotone as the desperate woman in love, and Zinta, even in a small role, comes out uneasy and contrived.

Govinda steals the show. He obviously relishes the role of the animated, absurd, irreverent ageing Bollywood hero—doubly zany since he is on the comeback trail himself. The scenes in which he appears are unremittingly funny—and possibly the reason Happy Ending was not entirely a waste of time.

Happy Ending released in theatres on Friday.

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