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36 China Town

Cast: Akshay Khanna, Shahid Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor, Isha Koppikar, Upen Patel
Language: Hindi
Banner: Mukta Arts Ltd
Director: Abbas Burmawalla, Mustan Burmawalla
Producer: Subhash Ghai
Camera: Ravi Yadav
Story: Shyam Goel
Screenplay: Shyam Goel
Dialogue: Anurag Prapann
Lyrics: Sameer
Music: Himesh Reshammiya
Year: 2006

Abbas, Mustan have always been the kings of suspense thrillers, and have given the audiences films like Soldier, Ajnabee, Humraaz, Tarzaan and Aitraaz, all of which have been exciting and have done well commercially. 36 China Town too is no exception, as it falls into the genre of a murder mystery. The film is set in Goa, where 36 China Town is the address of one of the characters.

Sonia Chang (Isha Koppikar), the rich and famous owner of many a casino is distraught, as her only child is missing. Even as her lawyer and the local playboy Rocky (Upen Patel) pay her a courtesy visit, she gets a phone call that her child is well and will be delivered to her soon. The child incidentally has been discovered in Mumbai by a struggling actor Raj (Shahid) and a runaway girl (Kareena). These two form an alliance of convenience, and set out for Goa, to deliver the child and earn a reward. On the way, they run into a whole lot of loony characters, including a compulsive gambler (Johnny Lever) and his wife Tanaz Currim, a rich but mentally unstable husband (Paresh Rawal) and his under dressed pouting wife Payal Rohtagi. Even as they reach Goa and head to 36 China Town where Sonia stays, they encounter her corpse in the dead of the night. Flabbergasted and scared out of their skins, they run away and inform the police. Unfortunately, Priya's bag is left behind at the murder venue, as when Raj goes to retrieve it, he gets arrested. Soon, four or five others who could possibly have a motive are hounded by the police inspector (Akshaye Khanna), and rounded up.

As the needle of suspicion shifts from one to the other, plenty of skeletons tumble out of the closet. In the end, the inspector uses an age-old ruse, to catch the villain, and all's well that ends well.

The film is technically snazzy, and the story and screenplay are well interwoven with the plot. The film moves at a rapid clip, and there is never a dull moment in the film, except for a couple of songs, which are irritating. Paresh and Johnny Lever provide humor, in plenty. There are a few occasional lewd references, but overall the film is quite clean. Of the cast, the romantic lead pair of Shahid and Kareena are well matched, and share the same wonderful chemistry which we saw in Fida. Pares and Lever, with above average performances, lift the level of the film. Akshaye Khanna, as the police inspector, is dependable and good. But the surprise element is Upen Patel, who has an amazing screen presence, and acts reasonably well.

All in all, though the film is not extraordinary, it is quite good. So carry your popcorn and soft drink, and head for the nearest theatre. It's good time pass, but nothing more than that.

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