Akshay Kumar is starting to high-five that league of actors in Bollywood who sign films that mould themselves to the star; story, script, dialogues be damned. Much like Salman Khan, Shah Rukh and even Ajay Devgn, Kumar’s movies also no longer demand a memorable performance, him just showing up at all seems to have the BO ringing.
In Krish’s neverending movie, Akshay Kumar plays Gabbar, who is supposed to be “kaam se hero, naam se villain” but basically he’s just Akshay Kumar. A master of assorted martial arts, with a great body and mildly psychotic grin, who delivers dialogues with the sort of energy reserved for the voiceover guy on that Animal Planet show that thinks it’s acceptable to offset making completely sober viewers stare at empty fields for five hours straight with one out-of-focus shot of a tiger’s ear.
To switch things up a bit in this one, Kumar sports a wavy mane and a full salt and pepper beard, which looks great on a man who’s almost 50, but less so on a man who’s almost 50 and romancing a 20-something (Shruti Hassan, who plays…with our patience).
Aditya (aka Gabbar) is a physics professor at (a fictitious version of) Mumbai’s National College, where they have and practice a “no cops/ goons can enter these gates” rule. Constantly urging his students to say no to corruption, Aditya forms a team of his biggest fans and with their help puts into action a plan to bring every corrupt official in the city down. So we go through a checklist: greedy government officials, unethical doctors, dirty cops… one by one, Aditya (in his Gabbar avatar) makes an example out of them all, and instills the fear of Gabbar into their peers (“…varna Gabbar aa jayega!”), thus getting rid of corruption forever, HURRAH! But then there’s this villain Digvijay Patil (Suman Talwar), who is responsible for Aditya’s traumatic past and present obsession with teaching the corrupt a lesson (hint: it’s because of Patil that we don’t see Kareena Kapoor outside of a song that’s shot like an ad selling soap and wall paint at the same time — I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not).
The movie takes corruption and makes some painful attempts at rousing the country’s youth into some sort of action. But if a revolution is your aim, Gabbar is really not a good example. He’s a guy with all the right intentions and all the wrong moves. And by wrong moves, I don’t mean nailing a political seat of power and then throwing a tantrum on the road 20 days later. This guy kidnaps the corrupt, breaks their bones, kills them by hanging them in a public place. So what we end up with is basically an unhinged version of Kejriwal pumped on Hulk-juice. Um… No thanks?
Sunil Grover (Guthi from Comedy Nights with Kapil) plays Sadhuram, who had all the qualifications to be a top cop on paper, but not enough money for bribes, so he’s now a hawaldar who’s constantly being sent out to get samosas. That is, until he takes medical leave to solve this whole Gabbar case all on his own and get all the points at the end, when people finally stop expecting him to break into a gidda and try taking him seriously.
But we can’t. Because we don’t know how to take anything in this movie seriously.
There is a dialogue in the movie that goes, “With every film release on Friday, a cop will be released — either from corruption or from life.” In real life, it seems to repeatedly feel like that latter for the Bollywood-watching audience.