Bachchhan Paandey movie review: Fierce Akshay Kumar, charming Kriti Sanon barely save a film riddled with cliches
- Bachchhan Paandey movie review: Akshay Kumar plays a deadly gangster in Farhad Samji's new film.
It was in 2008 film Tashan that Akshay Kumar was introduced to us as Bachchan Pandey, and in those few minutes, he left his fans wanting more. Cut to 2022, we have a full-fledged film called Bachchhan Paandey, released on the festival of colours. And what we get to see onscreen is a Holi played with blood. Bachchhan Paandey is unapologetic, trigger-happy and remorseless. In a scene, he burns a journalist alive for publishing an article he deems unfavourable. (Also read: Jalsa movie review: Vidya Balan and Shefali Shah struggle to engage audience with half-baked characters)
By this time, director Farhad Samji has made it clear that he doesn't want us to like the main man of his film. Bachchhan Paandey isn't shown to have a softer side or even the weakest bone of mercy. All he wants is to instil fear in all eyes that look at him. Unfortunately, Farhad applies only the filmiest cliches to achieve that. However, what somewhat works for Bachchhan Paandey is how it blends two genres that Akshay seems to have mastered — action and comedy. Whether it's his impeccable comic timing or deadly stunts, he's the action hero you love and the villain you loathe at the same time.
Set in a village called Baghwa, the film's story revolves around Bachchhan Paandey's eccentricities, which get highlighted when an aspiring filmmaker from Mumbai, Myra (Kriti Sanon), decides to make a film on him. After being told that she can't be good at her job, Maya undertakes this risky project with her friend Vishu (Arshad Warsi), a struggling actor who wants to fulfil his father's last wish and hence unwillingly joins her on this mission. In the process of getting to Bachchan Paandey, they befriend his gang, do sly things to know what he is up to and finally, reach a point where they are caught doing all this under his nose. Will they be spared or punished for daring to do something which no one would think of?
Given that Bachchhan Paandey is a remake of Tamil film Jigarthanda (2014), which was inspired by Korean movie A Dirty Carnival (2006), we know what has happened and how the story will unfold. So, it's natural to expect something different from a Hindi remake too. Sadly, Samji seems too obsessed with delivering stylised sequences and has not gone beyond his comfort zone. This led me to a very important questions: Has Bollywood exhausted its quota and skills of remaking South films?
Despite the film's story not being up to the mark, the pace of the narrative could have helped to some degree, but even there, it falters. The first half entices you with some twists and turns but the screenplay is so dragged in some places, that for a brief period, it becomes a snooze fest.
Nonetheless, it's the actors who keep the show going. Akshay, as the larger-than-life gangster, lives up to his character description — iska aankh aur dil dono pathhar ka hai. Even while playing a goon, his style stands out and especially those slo-mo shots in his vintage car are show stealers. He is given a backstory but it looks half-baked and feels like a tool to get Jacqueline Fernandez in the mix of things. Her acting roles have seen no change in the last few years and frankly, it stopped exciting the audience long ago.
Kriti Sanon, however, shines as the feisty filmmaker. She not only looks good on screen but also delivers a very convincing and confident performance. She manages to hold her fort and steal the limelight even in scenes with Akshay. Out of everyone, I felt the saddest for Arshad Warsi. He is goofy, quirky and gets a decent screen time, still, he just couldn't make the most of it and could only add another supporting role to his filmography.
As part of Bachchhan Paandey's gang, there are some fine performances from Prateik Babbar as Virgin, Abhimanyu Singh as Pendulum and Saharsh Kumar Shukla as Kaandi. Each of them gets ample screen time and they stand out with their decent acts. Sanjay Mishra as Bufferia Chacha is hilarious but his character sketch could have been way better. There's also Pankaj Tripathi in a cameo as acting coach Bhaves Bhoplo from Gujarat, though his character doesn't bring much to the table neither does it add any value to the plot. The few moments he's there on screen, he triggers genuine laughs.
There are quite a few songs in the film and while they do add to the total runtime of the film, they are not as bad to watch or listen to. Bachchhan Paandey, as a whole, is a masala flick, which Akshay Kumar fans can't complain about. With an interesting plot at hand, it could have been much better, but as of now, it's surely a one-time-watch for those with a penchant for comedy.
Director: Farhad Samji
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kriti Sanon, Jacqueline Fernandez and others