After being disappointed by Dum Maaro Dum, I decided to check out the first collaboration between Abhishek Bachchan and director Rohan Sippy: Bluffmaster! The pair’s first effort is clearly the superior of the two.
Bachchan stars in Bluffmaster! as conman Roy Kapoor. His heists have netted him loads of cash, and he has a sweet girlfriend named Simi (Priyanka Chopra) who thinks he’s a stockbroker. Simi learns the truth about him when a movie producer Roy conned shows up at their wedding.
Six months later, as Roy mourns his failed relationship with Simi, he watches a pair of small-time con artists trick a doctor out of his wallet. Roy retrieves the wallet and earns the friendship of the doctor, Bhalerao (Boman Irani). One of the cons, Dittu (Ritesh Deshmukh) is so impressed with Roy’s skills that he asks to become Roy’s student.
While Roy contemplates Dittu’s offer, he begins experiencing blackouts. Dr. Bhalerao discovers an inoperable brain tumor and gives Roy just months to live. Given Roy’s history of untruths, Simi assumes Roy’s brain tumor story is a trick and slams the door on him.
Dittu, unaware of Roy’s condition, explains that a prominent hotelier tricked his father out of his life savings. Roy decides to spend the little time he has left helping Dittu get his father’s money back. It’s the first time in Roy’s life that he’s ever put someone else’s needs above his own.
What distinguishes Bluffmaster! from Dum Maaro Dum is the former’s superior plot structure. While Dum Maaro Dum is mired in flashbacks and sideplots, Bluffmaster! moves forward at a steady clip. Just as it appears Roy may have a chance to win Simi back after all, his scheme with Dittu becomes more complicated than he expected. All the while, the threat of imminent death hangs over Roy’s head.
Bluffmaster! is based on the Argentine movie Nine Queens, which was also remade in America as Criminal. Additionally, Bluffmaster! shares similarities with Hollywood films like The Game and Matchstick Men. All of these movies directly or indirectly supply the template for Bluffmaster!. Meticulous continuity is the only way to make such a complex story work, and it does so in Sippy’s sophomore directorial effort.
The acting is uniformly good. Bachchan brings charm to a character who is initially a selfish crook. Irani is stellar as an elder who sees potential in Roy and has great affection for him. Chopra and Deshmukh are solid as the skeptic and the sidekick, respectively.