|Ashish R Mohan|
|Akshay Kumar, Asin, Ileana D'Cruz, Claudia Ciesla, Himesh Reshammiya, Paresh Rawal, Mithun Chakraborty, Raj Babbar|
In short, the audience was expecting a run-of-the-mill commercial film whose USP is the cast, then the music, then the promotions and somewhere down the line, the story and filmmaker.
But even by those standards, Khiladi 786 disappoints. Akshay Kumar plays Bahattar Singh, a Punjabi 'rowdy' with a soft heart. Pretty much the role every A-list star, including Akshay, has played in the last few years.
The accent is on action with a dollop of romance and comedy. The finale where the hero beats up dozens of goons single-handedly is inevitable.
Meanwhile, we have learnt that his punch can break an entire wall and a stomp of his foot can create a cyclone of sorts.
Still, love-tiffs can bring a tear to his puffed eye. And he has 786 inscribed on his palm, as a gift from God!
A 12th pass, Bahattar Singh works for the police helping them nab smuggled goods. He pretends to be a cop so he can marry pretty lass Indu (Asin).
Meanwhile, Indu's autocratic brother (Mithun Chakraborty) is a goonda who wants his sister to get married into a shareef family. And so he pretends to be a cop himself.
In the middle of all this is Himesh Reshammiya's character that belongs to a family of match-makers and wants to independently arrange this marriage to get respect from his father.
The story continues, punctuated regularly by songs (romantic song, Punjabi beats song, sad song, item number, closing credits song).
For comedy you have the done-to-death spoofing of TV channel reporters looking for sensationalism.
Then you have a character named Azaad (Rahul Singh), a petty criminal who escapes the jail only to get back in within seconds.
Logic is completely absent. Only in a Bollywood film can Asin's character fall for a man who arrives at a nightclub in a gaudily-painted truck ('mardon ki sawaari hoti hai truck').
Bahattar's other signature dialogue is, 'Punjabi na chup chaap aate hain, na chup chaap jaate hain.' (Punjabis never come or go quietly).
This role is an amalgamation from various roles that Akshay has played in the past, from Namastey London to Rowdy Rathore. Dressed in the brightest of hues, this is a role he could play in his sleep. Still his wide smile and charm sail him through this one.
Asin looks gorgeous and does well, but is stuck playing the love-interest yet again. They make for an interesting pair though, and the audience will like their chemistry.
Himesh Reshammiya does well in his comic character; Rahul Singh is dependably good.
There was great potential here - the successful Khiladi franchise, the A-list cast, good music and so on. But debut director Ashish R Mohan makes a film that's a diluted, washed-down version of several such films.
Watch it only if you're a die-hard fan of either of the stars.
Rating: 2 stars