1 Sep 2017

Movie Review: Baadshaho: No Fun, No Fireworks


Gitanjali (Ileana D'Cruz), a Rajasthani royal princess refuses to be bedded by powerful political leader Sanjeev (A villainous Sanjay Gandhi take by Priyanshu Chatterjee). Two years later, the 1975 emergency provides Sanjeev the opportunity to get back at Gitanjali. He orders the seizure of Gitanjali's hidden royal treasure, coercing an army officer to lead the charge. Clearly, it is the victors who write and rewrite history, down to tampering film scripts now.

Cornered, Gitanjali seeks the help of 'loyal-to-royal family' bodyguard Bhavani Singh (Ajay Devgn). Bhavani enlists the help of Dalia (Emraan Hashmi), a local crook and his 'guru' and master safe-cracker Tikla (Sanjay Mishra). Sanjana (Esha Gupta) passed off as Gitanjali's trusted aide, is clearly cast for decoration.

The rustic men go taaro, maaro, tiharo in exaggerated dialect. Camels mandatorily sway in and out of the movie.

Off-Beat, Lazy, Dumb  
Director Milan Luthria has directed similar unpretentious Hindi film entertainers, notably the very engaging Taxi No 9211 (2006) and the deliciously filmy don saga Once Upon a Time in Mumbai (2010). 

But here the rhythm, pitch, and attempted comic book fun are all on a holiday. Despite the hoot-inducing mass audience dialogues, a lot of it cringe-inducing, the mistiming, repetition and uneven flow makes it awkward and unintentionally laughable and irritating. The rough predominantly male audience wasn't complaining though.    

The potential remains on paper here. Gitanjali's cold-hearted turn is lost to an underwritten role. Bhavani redundantly mouths wisdom about 'four days of life', Dalia cracks weird jokes, at least one heroine falls in love instantly, because hey, it's a Hindi film. Neither the love nor the betrayal gets through. It all seems cardboard-strong, artificial and rushed.  

Everything hinges then on the robbery, which ends up lame and contrived. For a heist film, barely anything is clever or witty, to any measurable degree. Did they want to make this film or not? Puzzling indeed. Everything on screen seems an alarmingly half-hearted directorial attempt.    

Tear gas can't make me cry! I am the Hindi film hero!

What the F! Moments
Bhavani drives a jeep into a river with Gitanjali, just because she feels like dying. They survive, not a scratch on them, and a camp fire, (that lit itself to flames?) is waiting for them at the bank?! An entire troop of army men can't shoot down four robbers, everyone seems to be firing to miss! Bullets just don't run out. 

Robbers make away with an armored truck, with relative ease. The police conveniently doze off while prisoners use a bra pin (!) to flee. Armed police officers are dismissed with a slight push. They don't dare return to screen again. The bad guys just get lost in a sandstorm leaving our heroes alive and smooth-talking in a strange last scene. What was that about? Did the film makers run out of budget? Did they just give up? 

What Works in Baadshaho? 
There is a brief moment when Bhavani and company discuss how will they stop an armored truck that is 20-25 seconds of genuine fun. The only laugh out loud moment belongs to Tikla played by Sanjay Mishra. When he finally reveals why Dalia is 'not alone', he nails the joke right in. A couple of credible love/lust twists don't build up. If bare-backed Sunny Leone and Ileana D'Cruz is your thing, well, forget you are watching a movie. 

Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Vidyut Jammwal, Sanjay Mishra and Ileana D'Cruz (Esha Gupta tries) are all competent. But they can't salvage a movie that has cracks in its every frame.   

Can't Make it Worse
Baadshaho is way, way, way below expectation for a Milan Luthria film. To make a worse film will take some doing. 

Baadshaho also showcases how going off-pitch can wreck a film, despite the makings of a solid action thriller. 

In cricketing terms, films like Baadshaho happen when a decent batsman can't time anything right, neither can he get out. He plods on, indifferent.  
    

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