Direction: Rohit Shetty
Actors: Abhishek Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Prachi Desai
A few years ago, I interviewed the Swedish actress Noomi Rapace. She had recently blazed into the spotlight with her ferocious performance as Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish film version of the blockbuster novel The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. A-list Hollywood director David Fincher had just started casting the same role for a big-budget English version of the film. It was one of the most coveted roles of the time. But despite the obvious temptations of the project, Noomi said that she wasn’t interested in being Lisbeth again because “repetition would be cynical”.
Rohit Shetty clearly has no such hang-ups. Almost every year, he regurgitates a formula consisting of Ajay Devgn, cheerfully cheesy jokes and cars crunching at ear-splitting decibel levels to resounding box-office returns. In Bol Bachchan, he’s added Abhishek Bachchan to the mix. Abhishek plays Abbas Ali, his alter ego, also called Abhishek Bachchan and another alter ego, also called Abbas. Confused? It hardly matters. Because Bol Bachchan, like most of Shetty’s earlier films, including the Golmaal series and All the Best: Fun Begins, isn’t so much a film as a series of gags strung together with songs and the requisite car-bashing action. There is no attempt at plotting, storytelling, delineating a character, building coherence or following logic. Shetty’s only agenda is to give you a good time.
So did I have a good time? I laughed in a few places. Ajay Devgn, playing Prithviraj Raghuvanshi, a village strongman who insists on speaking wrong English, has his moments. But the humour consists of the kind of PJs that you might have giggled at in your college canteen. There are lines like ‘When elder get cosy, younger don’t put nosy’ or ‘Boy under armpit and hypercity noise pollution’, the latter being Raghuvanshi’s translation of bagal mein chora aur shehar mein dindhora. Mostly, the gags feel laboured.
The best thing about the film is Abhishek Bachchan, who lets loose without inhibition. He manages to sparkle even in a script that is lazy and determinedly lowbrow, so the alter ego Abbas is an effete dance teacher who wears flowery shirts. The climax has people hanging on the side of a cliff, which immediately took me back to the equally infantile films of Anees Bazmee (No Entry, Welcome), which is never a good sign for any film. In between the sound and the fury, Shetty also slips in a sermon on communal harmony. At one point, a character reminds us: Ramzan mein Ram hota hai aur Diwali mein Ali.
Did I mention that Bol Bachchan is an official remake of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Gol Maal, a genteel comedy of errors in which the unassuming Amol Palekar takes on the fiery Utpal Dutt? But there are very few signs of that film in this one. What you get instead is mediocre entertainment, which is almost depressing in its repetitiveness. A fitting label would be: The Cinema of Exhaustion.
(You can watch Anupama Chopra review the latest releases on The Front Row, every Friday at 8.30 pm on Star World)