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<i>Holiday</i>

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Courtesy: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM

With the influx of multiplexes in India, stories that were considered experimental at a point are slowly finding their way to the big screen. Pooja Bhatt picks up the essence from the Hollywood hit Dirty Dancing [1987; Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze], garnishes the plot with a dance form [Salsa] and sets her story in the land of sand, sea and surf [Goa].

Ideal date movie? Not really... Holiday could've been one enjoyable joy ride. Instead, it turns out to be a bland experience thanks to an ineffectual plot and the sluggish pace at which the story unfolds.

Agreed, the dance form has rarely been witnessed on Indian screen and Bollywood aficionados would relish the two Salsa numbers. But barring a scene or two that linger in your memory, the story otherwise is too simplistic, the screenplay lacks ample dramatic moments to keep you hooked and the execution is quite basic.

Pooja's recent movies, Jism and Paap mainly, had ample meat in the plot, but writer Mahesh Bhatt doesn't get it right this time around. In short, this 'Holiday' will be short-lived in public memory!

Holiday begins with Dr. Daksh Suri [Gulshan Grover] arriving in Goa for a month-long vacation. Accompanying Dr. Suri is his wife Nandini [Anahita Uberoi] and their two daughters, Samara [Nauheed Cyrusi] and Muskaan [Onjolee Nair]. While Samara is an extrovert, Muskaan is exactly her opposite. She prefers to be in a shell.

Muskaan bumps into a group of dance professionals [Dino Morea, Alyssa/Kashmira Shah] who perform in the hotel. She also gets to know that Alyssa is pregnant and the guy responsible for it is the hotel owner's flirtatious kin [Sanjit Bedi], who has now befriended Samara.

Muskaan decides to step in as Alyssa's replacement when she resolves to go for an abortion. But Muskaan is completely clueless when it comes to dancing, more so about Salsa. Dino decides to train her and in the process not only do the two find comfort in each other's arms, but Muskaan also discovers her strengths.

Holiday is not just Dirty Dancing but also Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin. If the basic plot has been borrowed from the Hollywood hit, the characterization of the female protagonist bears a striking semblance to the immensely popular TV serial, about a girl-next-door discovering self esteem and confidence.

Frankly, the subject matter had ample scope to emerge into an enthralling fare. But the film catches your attention in bits and spurts. The Kashmira Shah track as also the scenes when Onjolee decides to learn dancing, hold your interest. However, the best part of the film is the song prior to the intermission ['Tu Hain Bhatakta Jugnu Koi']. A brilliant composition, it is composed [Ranjit Barot], rendered [Shreya Ghoshal], choreographed [Sandeep Soparkar] and performed [Dino, Onjolee] with amazing precision.

But the excitement [on a minimal scale] generated in the first hour evaporates in the second hour. The film develops into one of those mundane love stories where lovers part ways only to re-unite in the climax. The script has a major flaw: Why doesn't Dino clear the misunderstanding when he meets Gulshan Grover? Why does he want Gulshan to feel that he's the culprit, when he's not? Let's face it, today's youth can be brutally frank when it comes to airing their views/feelings.

Also, in the climax, when Onjolee performs with Dino, it doesn't make you jump with joy primarily because the love story is treated so ordinarily that you don't empathize with the lovers. The finale track ['Aashiyaan'] is interesting again, but not much of a help either.

Pooja Bhatt's direction is not as convincing this time. The talented actor turned director made more impact in her directorial debut [Paap] than in her second outing [Holiday]. One of the reasons could be the lackluster screenplay, which tends to get boring at regular intervals.

Ranjit Barot offers a truly different sound and at least three numbers rise to the occasion: 'Tu Hain Bhatakta Jugnu Koi', 'Khwaishon Se' and 'Neele Neele'. Sandeep Soparkar's Salsa steps are sure to win tremendous acclaim. Cinematography [Anshuman Mahaley] is mesmerising. The beauty of Goa has been captured remarkably by the lensman.

If there's one person who'd stand to benefit from Holiday, it's Dino Morea. Known as a good looker until now, Dino climbs a few steps as an actor with this film. Sincere and convincing, this is his finest work to date. Also, all those who felt that Dino is a guy with two left feet are sure to chew their words back.

Onjolee doesn't have the conventional Hindi film heroine looks. Even otherwise, she is plain ordinary when it comes to acting. But the one department she scores in is dances. Kashmira Shah is first-rate in a brief role. Nauheed Cyrusi is okay. Gulshan Grover is able. Anahita Uberoi is alright. Sanjit Bedi is proficient. Ankur Desai is adequate.

On the whole, Holiday doesn't have much to fall back upon except for a soothing musical score. But music alone isn't enough. At the box-office, it's a non-starter!

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