Imagine taking the delicate, gentle humour Hirishikesh Mukherjee’s Gol Maal and turning it into a high-pitched “action-comedy” replete with loud and homophobic jokes
Here’s the lowdown on the story - Abbas Ali (Abhishek Bachchan), and his sister Sania (Asin) are homeless because their inherited home is lost to hostile relatives. A well-wisher, Shastri (Asrani), convinces them to move to his village Ranakpur, where the brother-sister duo can settle.
The most powerful man in the village Prithviraj (Ajay Devgn), a sarpanch of sorts, lives in a mansion with his sister (Prachi Desai). He’s the kind of man followed by armed guards, whose one raised hand can silence an entire village, and who, for the most part walks in slow-mo. The recurring gag in the film—his bad English and a literal translation of the Hindi language into English— is never corrected by the villagers as they are scared of him. Even his educated sister is frightened of her domineering but good-hearted brother.
Abbas, due to circumstances, changes his identity and comes to be known as Abhishek Bachchan (haw!). So in effect, this is one of the few films where the character’s name is exactly that of the actor’s. Abbas finds employment with Prithviraj (who else). Abbas then changes his identity yet again to become the homosexual Kathak teacher (limp hand movements, effeminate gestures etc) who tutors Prithviraj’s spunky sister.
Thing is with an ingenious gag such as this—a powerful village head making literal translations from Hindi to English—the makers could made the film funnier. Here you get risqué ones like “My chest has expanded and I have become a blouse”, and some semi-funny ones like “Necessity is the mother of Discovery Channel”.
And then there is the action—Rohit Shetty style. So you have cars blown up, jeeps going through the wind-shields of buses, and or a car colliding with a truck.
What saves the film are the performances. Ajay Devgn, despite comedy not being his forte, does well in his action-comedy track. His Big Moose character would have been funnier with more ingenious lines. Abhishek Bachchan gets to exploit his natural comic prowess playing contrasting dual characters. A departure from his usual dead-pan style of comedy, Abhishek’s effort shows and will surely be appreciated. Asin is dependably good. Prachi Desai shows spark. Archana Puran Singh is impressive in her role as a courtesan acting like Abhishek’s mother.
Another highlight of the film is the song where Abhishek Bachchan and Ajay Devgn appear with Amitabh Bachchan. The portion where Amitabh reprises his My name is Anthony Gonsalves act from Amar Akbar Anthony is great fun. But one must admit, despite the gaudy sets and blingy costumes, it’s not a patch on the original.
In a way, Bol Bachchan incorporates the title of the film, as it’s again one of those films that promises too much in the promos, and delivers precious little. The film is recommended if you’re up for yet another “leave-your-brains-home” comedy, that makes up for its mediocrity with the glamorous stars, songs, a few laughs and loads of action.
Purists will frown at how the original classic has been turned into this junk-food of a combo. But hey, there’s no accounting for taste. If this brand of comedy gets you laughing, knock yourself out!
Rating: Two and a half stars