So as you read this, Farah Khan and SRK are probably laughing their way to the 100 crore club, shattering many records (highest first day collections, fastest 100 crores, widest release etc). In all probability it will create many more records, and add many a zeroes to the bank balance of the makers. Well, without mincing words, it is simply one of the most appalling and mind-numbing movies you’ll ever come across, and does nothing to salvage bollywood’s reputation as a chauvinist, brain-dead and crass medium of entertainment, though the last two might not necessarily be that bad a quality, as long as the end result is suitably entertaining. Now, lest I am labelled a pretentious masala movie hater or one of those grown-up-on-hollywood types, I am perhaps one of the biggest Bollywood buffs you will ever come across. Having grown up on a staple diet of Sooraj Barjatya, Abbas Mastan, David Dhawan, Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar and lately the lady herself, Farah Khan, my knowledge of Tarantino is limited to the reviews of Vishal Bhardwaj’s Kaminey. Yet I found this piece of cinema insulting, and the anger probably is a cumulative effect of a string of such movies, all similarly assaulting at the core, only varying in appearances, in the past few years in the name of potboiler, masala, crowd pleaser and what not. So, this one is for you, Farah, SRK and all the ‘creative’ minds behind this colossal collective assault of sensibility.
- SRK the Superstar: So most of us have been a fan of Raj and Rahul at some point, admit it. So SRK has been one of the most popular actors the country has ever produced, admit it. But why does that mean we have to be constantly reminded of the fact throughout the movie? From the opening sequence of ‘Bade bade matches me..’ to Deepika’s Chak de speech, and along with it the dismissive and I daresay cocky grin on the ‘superstar’s’ face as he looks at her; seriously what are we supposed to make of it? Maybe that you’re done with all the punchlines (or pick up lines if you may) and all that’s left is a rehash. Yes, reference to self in a mocking tone can be funny and it was to some extent when the same team started the trend in Om Shanti Om, but not anymore. And mind you, OSO did throw at us a couple of really memorable and original lines too. What do we have here? ‘Kismat badi kutti cheez hai…, oh so original and creative! Lastly, as much as I want to avoid the moral tone, but an SRK movie by default invites a large number of children and families as audience; now how appropriate is for the kids to listen to the characters take constant shots at everyone’s mothers and sisters and using the colourful ‘madar…chor na yaar’ is something we should think upon.
- Sense of humor(?) : Amidst a fight scene with Sonu Sood and the goons, Boman is sitting on the side and while talking to himself that how the situation is a piece of cake, and takes out a cake from his bag. Now did you see what was done here? It could actually have been funny, it not so evidently forced and contrived. While entering the basement of the factory, Abhishek says – O , Patal bhairavi! So what? Yeah, that’s the question. On spotting the Koreans, the Junior B calls them Chinese as ‘saare same hi to dikhte hain’. Now, the stereotyping can even be ignored for once, but not the done-to-death-ness of this joke. For the India level auditions of WDC, we find out that judges Anurag Kashyap and Vishal Dadlani are a gay couple and our hero has a video clip of them dancing around in itsy-bitsy pink tops and bras with a scary display of a hairy back (as if the display wasn’t enough, SRK actually mouths the three words- your hairy back!). Now why would anyone find this sight or the thought amusing is beyond my understanding. Are we supposed to laugh at people being gay or is the filmmaker trying to say that’s how reality shows selections happen in our country? Quite audacious, must say, given she has also been a regular on judging panels of some of them.
- Deepika’s character: Now this one is a real shocker. The lady who very recently waged an online battle against a media giant for allegedly objectifying her has most certainly no qualms being treated like a door mat in a mainstream movie which certainly would reach an audience hundred times larger than any online page ever would. So she plays a bar dancer who dances in front of ‘anjaan mard(s)’ wearing ‘nangu-pangu’ clothes, hence is cheap, bazaru and has no ‘izzat’. No, that is not my judgement but our hero’s who says it aloud as the heroine listens, gives a two minute rant about being hurt and then in less than 5 minutes, falls in love with the man as he utters a few English words. As if that wasn’t enough, twice more our hero insults her, ‘bar dancer kahin ki’ and keeping her safely out of the plan (and trust). Well he loved her, right? So what if he can’t show a little respect. Seriously, is this the same Farah who gave us the beautiful sequence of a tomboy Sanjana teaching the brat Lucky the lesson of being loved and respected for what you are! (Main Hoon Na)
- Logic: Now, having grown up on Bollywood fare throughout, our tolerance for stupidity is normally very high. Logic isn’t one of the primary virtues we look for in our movies. So we don’t mind that bullets never hit the hero, or the sight of the girl crying for help brings back the hero to life, or that the WDC finals are being hosted in Hindi, along with English. But seriously, there has got to be a limit. Atleast in a movie which has a difficult heist as the main component of story, and when a major part of screenplay is devoted to ‘’intelligently’’ planning it, we do expect to be treated as adults and not toddlers being told a fairy tale, skipping the ‘how’ parts. Same was the issue with Dhoom 3, The missing how! I am sure hackers all over are offended by the joke the movie makes hacking look like. So it appears anything and everything in this world can be hacked without a trace. A participant of the finalist team is a humshakal (even typing that word feels scary now, damn you Sajid Khan!) of the son of the Diamond king and no one notices, not even the dad who is around the event round the clock.
- Box-office numbers: Get a superstar, pay for as many number of screens as possible and flood the theatres with your movie. Movies being the primary source of entertainment; India being a nation of 130 crore people; a large chunk of them actually finding the above mentioned traits likable, before the people form an opinion about the movie, it is well into the 100 crore club. See how that works? Now all that is possibly justified within legal limits, (although with regular stories of use of money and power to buy no. of screens and shows and a high profile case between Ajay Devgn films and Yash Raj Films in 2012 over alleged foulplay by the latter, even that is yet to be established), but it can be so much better. Given the immense command over public our movie stars enjoy, they can actually use all this stardom, money and power to make some really good movies, as they will find an audience for sure. Now the definition of ‘good movies’ may vary to extreme extents, from meaningful message oriented to commercial entertainers and so on. Without being preachy, if the hindi film industry could be a little less of an industry and a little more of a responsible social media, it would definitely do wonders for everyone and itself in the long run.
Oh, and I am not even mentioning the strictly average standard of dance numbers in the movie. For a movie claiming to be unabashedly bollywood, for a movie directed by a leading choreographer, for a movie based on a world dance championship, it has surprisingly ordinary dance numbers. However, it is probably the least disturbing aspect of the movie, so we’ll let it pass.