The film is built around an interesting concept, sadly marred by a worn-out story. The idea of a central character, a genius of sorts, always looking for a “kick” is immediately arresting. For that kick, Devil Lal Singh (Salman) doesn’t mind being chased around by sword-wielding ruffians, taking on local MLAs, fighting off molesters etcetera.
He falls in love—at first sight, naturally— with Shaina (Jacqueline) whom he begins calling Dr. Psycho (because you know...she’s a psychiatrist). In typical Bollywood fashion, pursuing a woman, despite her startling lack of interest is encouraged (she saves his number under “Headache”). What message does that give out to stalkers and other pests, one wonders.
Now, Devi can’t hold down a job because that requires some discipline and falling into routine. Shaina’s father offers him residence in their house to which his wounded hyper-ego screams, “ghar jamai...never!” They break-up.
The film then dips into other genres-- it becomes a Dhoom-type good-hearted thief tale, mixed with a chor-police yarn. You know, where the police and chor are frenemies, threatening each other through smart-ass dialogue and talking like long-lost buddies.
With the cat-and mouse game, romantic triangle, and a social theme insinuated, the story gets too crowded, and no aspect is really explored.
What works for the film is its concept of “kick” and how the character ends up discovering it in the unlikeliest of places. Randeep Hooda plays the cool cop who’s never in a uniform and Nawazuddin Siddiqui makes a crackling appearance as the bad guy, walking away with the best lines.
Their equation with Devi’s character makes for some very arresting moments, full of crackling dialogue and twists. Jacqueline hangs around, looking gorgeous and making up for her shaky performance, with a sensational dance moment.
Sadly, the mainstay of the film—Devi’s character—is inconsistent. This born “genius” is dumb enough to call a psychiatrist Dr. Psycho, throws roadside romeo-type lines at the woman he likes, and hardly uses any of the special skills he possesses ( shown to us in an animated aside). Indeed, the only extraordinary quality he seems to have is that he slaps one goon, and the others run away. And that when he beats up people, their bones get crushed and altered (again shown through animated X-ray type footage). I guess you could call him grey-hued, but this character is more confusing than convincing.
Plus, it suffers from a serious Chulbul Pandey hangover. And Salman plays Devi very much like he did Chulbul. Meaning, he’ll say a serious statement then let out a goofy laugh. He’ll say something funny before beating up a baddie. He’ll hang his Ray Bans on the collar behind, Dabangg-style.
Salman pulls it off, but he’s done better. Due to this performance being a repetition of sorts, it seems a bit jaded. Still, no one does the goofy laugh in the middle of a serious situation better than him. And his presence still fills up the entire screen, in a larger-than-life manner.
Producer and debut director Sajid Nadiadwala gives us a film that starts off interestingly, but veers along the trodden path. He sets out to make a Salman film, and is unapologetic about keeping all the cliches in place. He does a clever job of accumulating a competent crew though, as seen in the cinematography, styling, music et al.
In one of the scenes, a character questions, “Devi has gone to jail and he beats up people, but he has a good heart?” It’s a clear reflection of Salman Khan’s persona. So it’s no surprise that the film, especially the latter half, is a giant show-reel for Salman Khan’s Being Human image. His fans will rejoice. The others will call it a trick where Salman and the film feed off each other. Either way, what you get is an archetypal Salman film with the regular cliches, and a few moments of, err, kick.
Rating: Two and a half stars