Cast: Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Katrina Kaif, Shilpa Shetty and Kirron Kher
Direction: Anil Sharma
Glove to glove you baby. Here’s a box-till-you-drop punchnama that entices you to rush up to the screen and give Dharmendra a big bear hug. Welcome back paaji.
In fact, Anil Sharma’s Apne is defensible essentially because it pulls yesteryear’s action Adonis out of the mothballs (the Metro cameo was mere time-pass). In fact, this Punjab-to-New York sarson da saga is a bonus of sorts, re-launching the asli Mr D flanked by his puttars. Balle balle.
For nostalgiaphiles of the Aaya Dharmendra Jhoom Ke entertainers of the 1960s, the early morning shot of him throwing out his arms to embrace his sons, is heart-warming. Ditto the daddy cycling through the farmfields, or brooding with snowflakes in his palm.
<b1>Besides the full throttle involvement of the 72-year-old actor, the project is elevated by some stunning boxing ring bouts. Stylistically, they are straight out of Rocky and Raging Bull but they do hurtle you to the edge of the seat. And that’s because you care about what happens to the father, once cheated of the World Heavyweight championship. Now, either his prodigal business man son (Sunny Deol) or the physically challenged one (Bobby Deol) can redeem his honour. Uh huh.
So much for the upbeat news. How you wish director Sharma had exercised some control in the film’s length. It goes yawn and yawn till you grey. For instance, why that elaborate public rally sequence showcasing Mr Amar Singh (super wooden) delivering a half-baked speech? And why so many unnecessary characters like the joke-cracking weirdo, the absent-minded beardo, and a midget with a case of the fidgets?
As for the women – Shilpa Shetty and Katrina Kaif – they keep pat-patting their hair into place. How about displaying some acting sparks, ladies? Next: meet Mum Kirron Kher who dons terrific shawls and stern expressions, a Muslim chacha (Victor Bannerjee hamming like Kanhaiyalal of yore), a suited-booted gent (Pakistani actor announcing, “I’m so proud to be an Indian!), a jabbering sister, a beatific brother-in-law..and more etcs.
Indeed, a doctor even announces, “This is getting too crowded please.” Clutter apart, the crippled son is suddenly cured in a Manmohan Desai-style miracle. And of course, there are frequent outbursts of patriotism carrying the hangover of Gadar.
On the tech-front, Kabir Lal’s cinematography is lustrous. The sound recording is first-rate. But Himesh Reshammiya’s music is eminently forgettable except for a shriek that goes something like, “Aaaah, you gotta gotta hit the bool’s eye.” What’s that?
Gratifyingly, the direction has sufficient intelligence to let the Deol trio to do their own thing.
Bobby is endearingly restrained. Sunny has his classic volatile moments (no one can yell, “Tune mere baap ko maara!”) like he does. Best of all, Dharmendra is tender and tough, the quintessential macho man with a marshmallow heart, taking you back to the Phool aur Patthar days. Do it again, sir.