If a film’s quality was measured by the delighted shrieks of women in the audience, Bodyguard would be the greatest movie of all time. The women at my screening went bonkers every time Salman Khan flexed a bicep or busted a dance move. When a firehose blasted Khan’s shirt off his body, I feared a riot.
Sadly, there’s little else going for Bodyguard besides Khan’s buff physique.
It’s not fair to compare all of Khan’s movies to last year’s hit, Dabangg, but that movie showed just how good Khan can be when he’s allowed to play a character who’s in on the joke: no one is as honest, charismatic or freakishly strong as the characters Khan normally plays.
Bodyguard feels like a step back. It’s as though the filmmaker, Siddique, didn’t trust the audience enough to buy Khan as more than the super-heroic caricature he’s played countless times before. Either that, or Siddique didn’t know any other way to write for the superstar.
Khan plays Lovely Singh, Mumbai’s best bodyguard. He’s so devoted to his work that he doesn’t have a personal life. Right off the bat, he saves a bunch of girls from human traffickers, causing a large amount of carnage in the process. An over-reliance on CGI effects makes the fight less impressive than it could have been.
The traffickers Lovely stops have it in for benevolent rich guy Sartaj (Raj Babbar) and put a hit on his daughter, Divya (Kareena Kapoor). Lovely agrees to serve as Divya’s bodyguard until she finishes college and moves to London. Sartaj’s only condition is that Lovely not tell Divya she’s in danger.
Lovely’s stern manner embarrasses Divya and her best friend, Maya (Hazel Keech), and the girls try to get him to loosen up. Divya invents an alter-ego, “Chhaya”, and sets about wooing Lovely over the phone. He falls for his pretend paramour and begins to let his guard down, potentially endangering Divya in the process.
For the first hour and forty-five minutes, Bodyguard is an amusing — if uninspired — action movie with a romantic subplot. But, after the bad guys have been vanquished, the attempt in the final half hour to wrap up the romance storyline comes out of left field.
While I’m all for breaking with tradition, it has to be done with an understanding of why the tradition exists in the first place. For example, when two characters fall in love, it has to be for reasons other than the fact that the movie would end on a down note if they didn’t. The ending to Bodyguard tries to buck tradition and just winds up absurd and tacked-on.
Though the music and dance numbers are pretty good (especially “Teri Meri”, the video of which I’ve embedded below), the rest of Bodyguard feels stale. Jokes at the expense of dwarves, gays and the morbidly obese are crude and tired. As usual, Khan beats up the bad guys and Kapoor looks beautiful and stylish; there’s nothing to stretch them as actors. A shame, since there’s a lot of talent between them.