Nemo, Shrek … Romeo? India’s collaboration with Walt Disney produced Jugal Hansraj’s animated flick Roadside Romeo. In keeping with Hollywood’s popular theme of personifying animals, Yashraj took on dogs as they dug their own paws into their first animated movie. This doggy tale may be more appealing to the kids unlike Nemo or Shrek, which has a universal audience. The movie may have the likes of Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Javed Jaffrey as voices of the main characters in the film; but it does fall short of telling an actual story. However, to the little folk this film is definitely appealing with its dancing dogs and the roadside style of talking (or barking). In typical Bollywood style, Hansraj has added all the masala needed to create an animated film for the kiddies this Diwali. Roadside Romeo has humor, love, and music, dance along with goonda’s and conflict followed by a happy ending.
Romeo, (Saif Ali Khan) dog to a rich family used living in a mansion equipped with all the luxuries of life is suddenly thrown to the curb, quite literally, when the family decides to move to London. He is then faced with living on the streets and the ruthlessness of being treated like a roadside dog. Enter Guru (Vrajesh Hrijee), Hero (Kiku Sharda), Interval (Suresh Menon) and Mini (Tanaaz Irani) who initially gang up on Romeo but then see the “coolness” he exudes and decide to add him to the posse. As he is living the life of a street dog, he meets his lady love Laila (Kareena Kapoor), and falls in love with her immediately. While their love story starts to blossom, the villain of the story makes his entrance. Charlie Anna, (Javed Jaffrey) who is a local hefty hoodlum is also in love with Laila and he starts to create havoc in Romeo’s life. The story continues as Romeo learns to become a street smart puppy that grows up, faces his troubles head on and saves the day.
The story is simple and typical of a Bollywood flick but that is perhaps what makes it most appealing to children. Even the names given to each character are tried and true popular roadside names from popular Hindi movies. It is the usual run of the mill story where love is tested and yet conquers all. The voice overs are strong and add character to the personalities of each of the dogs. Khan and Kapoor who play lovers in real life do a fine job of sounding unique and have taken a bold step towards animation voice overs. While watching the film, one can’t help but see glimpses of the actors that have been worked into the dogs — watch out for Romeo sporting a bandanna in typical Saif Ali Khan fashion and the strands of bleached fur which Kareena Kapoor is often seen modeling. Jaffrey is at his best and his accent gives Charlie Anna a real sense of being goonish. The friends of the dogs are worth a mention as they too provided great support and comedy to the film
As for look of the animated characters, the dogs definitely look straight out of the Yash Raj camp in their sexy avatars. Who knew dogs could look this hot? The animation is not as good as the ones Hollywood juts out but kudos to Hansraj for trying as hard as he did. The background images with Hindi movie posters add a sense of realness to the movie as it created the dark alleys where real dogs would normally reside and roam. The music was simply average by Salim-Sulaiman but choreography for each song was executed well. (Unfortunately, no Farah Khan did not choreograph the dances for this one!)
Hansraj has a winner with the children on his hands. The direction and dialogue for each character was thought out carefully and even though some typical Hindi dialogues were included, it came across as humor and not mundane. The highlight of the film is the climax and the mockery of previous Hindi films will keep you in splits. Overall 100% for effort here from Yashraj. This one is dedicated to stray dogs, animal lovers, the kids and the kid in you. A quick (less than two hours) good innocent watch, take the kids as a Diwali treat and enjoy this doggy ‘tail.’