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Holiday
cast: Onjoli Nair, Dino Morea, Kashmira Shah, Gulshan Grover, and Nauheed Cyrusi

director: Pooja Bhatt

149 minutes (12) 2006
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Fremantle DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Alasdair Stuart
Dirty Dancing, like it or loathe it, is the quintessential 'chick flick' of the 1980s, possibly of all time. Tracing Baby (Jennifer Grey) and her relationship with Johnny (Patrick Swayze) the dance teacher at the hotel where her family is staying. It's a coming-of-age story, a romance, and a great take on the ugly duckling story all in one. It's also just been re-made as Holiday.

Muskaan and her family travel to Goa on holiday. Muskaan's father is a doctor who saved the life of the hotel owner and, as a result, the family have access to all of the hotel's classes and facilities. Muskaan, deeply unhappy and convinced that she'll remain the ugly, clumsy member of the family her whole life wants nothing to do with any of it and is deeply embarrassed by her sisters' attempts to snag a holiday romance. Until, that is, she sees Dino, the salsa class instructor give a demonstration. Fascinated as much by the music as by Dino, she finds herself drawn into her world and out of her own.

The course of true love though, runs neither smooth nor particularly quickly. Holiday has great fun teasing every conceivable twist out of its central relationship and location. Exuberantly shot, it seems, entirely on location, Holiday is vibrant with colour and energy and packed with dance routines. Intricate, performed en masse and each with a clear identity, they're stunning well executed and look for all the world like miniature music videos dropped into the film. Despite this, they never feel forced and instead function effectively as musical numbers. They're even used to explore the same character beats with Muskaan as the original did with baby, her gradually increasing confidence providing the film with one of its best montages and some of its best comedy moments.

What's really interesting about the film though is how slightly different emphases are put on the central relationships. Here, because Muskaan's father is a doctor there's far more of a sense that both she and the family are indebted to him. Also, by making Muskaan overtly bookish and shy the film creates a far stronger relationship between her and her father than existed in the original, and manages to both define him as a character and fold him into the central plot far more strongly than the original. As a result, oddly, the ending is also stronger than the original with Muskaan becoming her own person and moving out from under her father's shadow in a way that the original never quite managed.

The other interesting difference comes from Dino Morea as Dino. In the original, Swayze's Johnny is the archetypal bad boy, the dangerous young man cut from the same cloth as James Dean or Marlon Brando. Here, Dino is intimidating because of his skill and what he represents instead of his demeanour and is if anything as broken as Muskaan. He connects with her just as she connects with the world and the end result is a central romance that is remarkably underplayed and actually quite sweet. Onjoli Nair as Muskaan has broader strokes to work with and, oddly, does a better job in the first half of the film than the second. She handles the comedic and dramatic elements of the character perfectly well but seems less at ease in the closing scenes. Other standouts include Kashmira Shah as Alysha, Dino's friend, Gulshan Grover as Daksh, Muskaan's father and Nauheed Cyrusi as her sister Samara, who does fine work as the comic relief.

If there's a problem here it's that the film is a little overlong. There's perhaps one song too many and little suspense as it's clear from the outset how things will end. Despite this, Holiday is an exuberant, energetic film that manages to expand on the original whilst remaining faithful to it. Sweet, romantic and packed with songs it may not quite be the time of your life but it's certainly a lot of fun.
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