Anupama Chopra’s Film Review of Welcome to New York

Director: Chakri Toleti

Cast: Karan Johar, Diljit Dosanjh, Sonakshi Sinha, Riteish Deshmukh, Rana Daggubati

Review by: Anupama Chopra

There is a scene in Welcome to New York in which Karan Johar, playing a version of himself, meets Diljit Dosanjh, playing Teji, a wannabe actor from Punjab. Both are in New York for the IIFA Awards. Karan is hosting the awards while Teji is attending as a talent contest winner. Teji goes into full fan mode and continues even when Karan gets out of the elevator and then proceeds to get kidnapped – don’t ask why, it’s too convoluted. In fact as men in identical grey suits grab Karan, Teji is trying to play a rapid fire round with him so he can win the hamper or as he calls it, tokri. It’s truly inspired.

There are maybe two or three other such moments in this film. The rest of it is an incoherent mess. Actually, Welcome to New York doesn’t feel like a film. It plays out more like an extended skit or a school play. It feels like the director Chakri Toleti made up scenes as he found actors to enact them and the actors just improvised. So Rana Daggubati playing himself is trying to get rid of the Baahubali hangover and become a romantic star. Salman Khan flexes his biceps. Riteish Deshmukh is the best – during a mani-pedi, he tries to suck up to Karan and get work. A running joke is that he gets paid much less than Karan to host.

If there was more of this, Welcome to New York could have been fun. The film is set during the actual IIFA event and Toleti gets so much to play with – New York City, an awards show, a galaxy of stars – but he blows it. The idea of two contestants landing up at a Bollywood award show has potential but the writing, by Dheeraj Rattan, is terrible. Diljit as the country bumpkin salvages some of his scenes with charm. But Sonakshi Sinha, playing a Gujarati designer looks like she would rather be any place else. Perhaps she understood even while she was shooting it, just how bewilderingly bad this film was going to be.

So it’s up to Karan to save the day and he does have a few good lines. In one scene, he says – Armani, uspe toh mere arman hain and in another, Vaada but what about my Prada?

I want that on a T-shirt but it can’t get you through two hours of drivel.

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