My, do we have gimmicks for you. The biggest gimmick is the casting coup of bringing the Kapoor family together. And the film milks this dry.
Babli (Ranbir Kapoor) and friend Teetu (Amitosh Nagpal) are mechanics who double up as car thieves. They also have a propensity for comparing cars with women, reminding one of that “dented-painted women” comment that riled the country last year.
So a woman in a car will be commented on like this, “Driver to totta hai, ek bhi dent nahin hai body mein.” This is Tara (Pallavi Sharda), the woman our hero has fallen for (naturally at first sight; there's no other way in commercial Bollywood). He pursues her, she rejects his advances.
Not getting the message he lands up at her office to embarrass her. And so in this step-by-step guide for harassers on how to trouble a woman, he continually refuses to acknowledge her refusal.
At times he lands up at her home, stops her on the way to the market, tells her he wants to do “palang-tod pyaar” (bed-breaking love) with her, and the director makes it all smooth by showing the guy as a helpful fellow. And an orphan (how’s that for some good ol’ emotional manipulation). Ok.
The tiresome twist happens when Babli accidentally steals Tara’s car (a Mercedes, no less, but that’s another story). He hands it over to villain Bhim Singh (Jaaved Jaaferi).
Inspector Chulbul and wife (Rishi and Neetu Kapoor) are hot on Babli’s trail. While Bhim Singh is now looking for a missing bag of cash. All roads lead to our very besharam hero, who isn’t yet done pursuing the heroine.
It is indeed very interesting that as he is stalking the heroine, the film portrays HER as the party-pooper. In the end, she apologizes to the hero calling herself “bigdi hui, khadoos and ziddi” (spoilt, a snob and stubborn). Ah, well.
The film is a meandering mess throughout. Take the central character. Did they want to create Abhay Deol’s cool charm from Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (also set in North India, also about a thief), did they want to make him a dabangg alpha-male character? Did they want to recreate his child-man character from Barfi!? It’s a confused mess of all three. With a lollipop in his mouth, and a sock in his underpants (for padding), this character is hard to figure out and like, and frankly you don’t care.
You have the film calling this out-and-out criminal “naughty”, with the heroine’s mother exclaiming she wished she had a son like him.
For “laughs”, you have a constipated Rishi Kapoor grunting on the pot, a sad rape joke, Ranbir Kapoor’s repetitive antics, and a climax that’s a huge letdown. In one scene you have Ranbir Kapoor throwing a heavy gas cylinder only to have the plastic thing bounce in the background.
From comedy the tone shifts to melodrama, as the hero-villain are locked in a combat with the background score going ballistic with “Ram Ram, Hare Hare” blaring.
The film rests on Ranbir Kapoor, and he tries to add charm to his loafer character, but it doesn’t work. Despite the effort, one misses the nuance that’s usually there in a Ranbir Kapoor performance. It’s unfair to put this responsibility on him— but one hopes he pushes more subversive cinema like he has in the past, rather than taking a step backwards.
Rishi and Neetu Kapoor are fabulous. Debutante Pallavi is a great dancer and has presence, but proves to be an average actor.
Abhinav Kashyap (Dabangg) gives us a film that’s humourless, sexist, and riddled with what seems like innumerable songs. It’s honestly difficult to respect filmmakers and actors who play along with such regressive cinema even now. Disappointing. Sorely disappointing.
Rating: One and a half stars