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Bell Bottom Review: The Akshay Kumar starrer gets is partly right, partly wrong!

A formulaic nationalistic film

Source: SIFY

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 2.5/5

Monday 20 September 2021

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Movie Title

Bell Bottom Review: The Akshay Kumar starrer gets is partly right, partly wrong!

Director

Ranjit M Tewari

Star Cast

Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutta, Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi

‘You are partly right, partly wrong,’ Akshay Kumar often says this, especially when he’s asserting his superior take to people who are literally experts on the topic.

But then, this is that kind of a film. You have to believe that Akshay’s character Anshul can play chess, teach, speak multiple languages, be the perfect family guy and save the world without breaking a sweat.

Airlifted directly from the nationalistic film formula, Bell Bottom is a film that checks all the boxes. It’s inspired by a true story, Akshay Kumar plays the perfect family guy & overall savior, there’s the nationalistic theme, Pakistan portrayed as the bad guy, ornamental love interest & so on.

The ‘Akshay Kumar nationalistic movie’ may well be a genre in itself. After multiple such films like Special 26, Airlift and Baby, the formula has begun to unravel a tad. The film has a ‘seen-this-before’ feel and the same goes for Akshay’s performance as the man who can do it all.

As an artist, he’s clearly unchallenged by the role and it shows. Which is why some of the prominent dialoguebaazi like “Ab Hindustan nahi jhukega. Iss baar, unki haar” falls flat. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if impactful actors like Akshay Kumar explore and stretch their boundaries beyond the predictable realm?

As far as nationalistic films go, Bell Bottom is thankfully a more subtle, intelligent than the usual jingoism. This is the part where the film gets it right.

At the film’s start, we are informed of multiple plane hijackings. A flight carrying an all-girls hockey team takes off and is soon hijacked. The film informs us that Indo-Pak relations are at their optimum at the time (‘70s/80s). The constant hijackings are thought to be the work of internal national terrorist groups.

However, our man whose code name is Bell Bottom, comes striding into the PM’s office (an unrecognizable Lara Dutta playing Indira Gandhi) and claims that ISI is behind it all.

‘Break the pattern’ he advices the PM as she’s about to have a conversation with Pakistan. A move that holds them in good stead.

PM Indira Gandhi’s character deserved to be fleshed out better. She’s almost portrayed like a strict school-teacher when she admonishes quarrelling men in her office with an ‘Is this passing the parcel?’ Is this musical chairs?’ dialogue. Total Grade 2 teacher feels!

Lara Dutta seems perfectly cast for the role, and the make up is competent, even if the ‘nose’ is slightly distracting.

The emotional angle is brought in with Akshay’s mother dying in one the plane hijackings (a very awkwardly shot sequence), that further propels him to bring the bad guys to book. The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) head trying to get him involved in solving the hijacking issue asks him after the mother’s passing, ‘Game on or game off?’ ‘Game on,’ replies Akshay.

Wife (Vaani Kapoor) works with MTNL and he says things like “stamina dikhaoon?” to her before breaking into a romantic song at a wedding.

The film has some interesting dialogue, but is also peppered with awkward dialogue like one above. Another off-color joke made by the RAW chief comes to mind.  

Akshay hatches a plan to rescue the hostages in the hijacked plane which has now landed in Lahore. He “literally” stumbles upon his first suspect in London at a family function. Then on we see how his plan progresses and the end is fairly predictable.  

Bell Bottom is not as loudly nationalistic as other recent films. But it’s still bothersome for its macho heroism and simplistic, obvious storytelling. The twist towards the end, is a nice touch however. 

Sonia Chopra is a critic, columnist and screenwriter with over 15 years of experience. She tweets on @soniachopra

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