Tag Archives: Asin

Movie Review: Bol Bachchan (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

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I try not to prejudge a movie before I see it, but I was sure I wasn’t going to like Bol Bachchan. Based on the trailer and promotional poster, I expected nothing but tacky gay jokes and dumb, goofball comedy. I was pleased to discover that my fears were unfounded. Bol Bachchan is genuinely funny.

Mistaken identity comedies seem to be a dime a dozen in Bollywood, but few are executed as well as Bol Bachchan (which translates to “A Bundle of Lies,” according to the title track’s lyrics). It helps that the film has a good template to work from. It’s a remake of 1979’s Gol Maal, which is unrelated to the three Golmaal movies from the last decade, all directed by Bol Bachchan‘s director, Rohit Shetty.

Bol Bachchan‘s story concerns the unlucky fate of Abbas Ali (Abhishek Bachchan). When Abbas and his sister, Sania (Asin), lose their house in Delhi, a family friend named Shastri (Asrani) offers to get Abbas a job with his employer. The employer is Prithviraj (Ajay Devgn), the richest guy in a small town.

While on a sightseeing tour of town with Shastri’s actor son, Ravi (Krushna Abhishek), Abbas sees a boy fall into a walled-in reservoir. To save the boy, Abbas — a Muslim — breaks open the locked gate to a Hindu temple.

When Prithviraj arrives and demands details of the boy’s rescue, Ravi panics and introduces Abbas with a made-up Hindu name: Abhishek Bachchan. Since there’s nothing tough-guy Prithviraj hates more than a liar, the lies about Abbas’ identity snowball until he winds up with multiple fake mothers and a pretend identical twin named Abbas Ali.

Some background knowledge of Hindi cinema is helpful for understanding some of the jokes — such as the fact that the Abhishek Bachchan is the name of both Abbas’ fake identity and the real actor playing him — but it’s not essential. References to the original Gol Maal are woven in nicely to the new film as a way to move the action forward, not just for nostalgia’s sake. For example, Prithviraj’s sidekick, Maakhan (Neeraj Vora), becomes suspicious of Abhishek after he sees a pertinent scene from Gol Maal on television.

The film’s PG rating is well-deserved. The kids in the audience at my showing laughed in all the right places, particularly at Prithviraj’s repeated mangling of English sayings, such as: “A brother in need is a sister indeed.”

I read an interview with director Shetty in which he said that he includes car-stunts in his films because he knows kids like them. The reactions of the kids at my showing prove that quality writing is just as important. There are plenty of movies with better stunts than the ones in Bol Bachchan — a van full of people is suddenly (and obviously) empty when it launches over a ramp — so they only serve to pad the film’s runtime unnecessarily.

The song-and-dance numbers are similarly forgettable filler material. The songs themselves lack pep, and the choreography suffers as a result.

Only one dance number stands out: Bachchan’s performance as Abhishek’s pretend gay identical twin, “Abbas.” In his audition to be the classical dance instructor for Prithviraj’s sister, Radhika (Prachi Desai), Abbas writhes mock-seductively, repulsing — and in one case, enticing — Prithviraj’s henchmen. It’s really funny, and not as tacky or offensive as I feared it could be.

Bachchan’s performance on the whole is very strong, as is Devgn’s. I think both actors are at their best in comic roles, and their performances in Bol Bachchan confirm my feelings. Neeraj Vora and Krushna Abhishek are also entertaining in their supporting roles. Sadly, there’s little for either of the female leads to do apart from act virtuous and mildly annoyed at Abbas’/Abhishek’s antics.


Movie Review: Ready (2011)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Ready has so much working against it — chiefly, that it’s directed by Anees Bazmee — that I was surprised to enjoy it as much as I did. Its success is due entirely to its stars: Salman Khan and Asin.

Khan plays Prem, a slacker who lives in a giant house with his parents, two of his uncles, and their wives. His family wants him to marry Pooja, an American girl he’s never met or even seen before. At the airport, Prem discusses with one of his uncles his plan to flee before Pooja arrives.

The conversation is overheard by a young woman dressed in full bridal regalia named Sanjana (Asin), who’s just fled her own wedding. She pretends to be Pooja, ready to start married life and turn Prem into a responsible adult. His family is instantly smitten with the fake Pooja, and Prem begins plotting ways to get rid of her.

It’s not long before Prem discovers Sanjana’s true identity. She explains that she’s running from her two feuding gangster uncles, both of whom want to marry her off strategically so as to gain power. Prem takes pity on pretty Sanjana and falls for her. It’s not long before she’s kidnapped by one of her uncles.

Khan’s character, as always for him, is the toughest and smartest guy in the movie. However, instead of relying on his usual bullying bravado,Khan imbues Prem with wit and charm to get what he wants: for Sanjana’s uncles to end their feud and agree to let him marry her. Khan is terrific when he does more than fight his way through a movie, though he gets to do plenty of that in Ready, too.

As good as Khan is, he’s outshone by cute and feisty Asin. Thanks to her, Sanjana is always likeable, even when she’s lying. Her character gets to show the most emotional range, and Asin is more than up to the task.

Prem and Sanjana can’t trick the mafia dons on their own, and they call on Prem’s family for help. Everyone in the family gets a few good lines, spreading the jokes around to make this something of an ensemble film. Paresh Rawal gets a few good lines of his own in the second half of the movie, playing the gangsters’ accountant. Convinced that he has godlike powers, his attempt to animate a statue of a beautiful woman is the best moment in the movie.

The aspects of Ready that don’t work are the same ones that never work in Bazmee’s movies. The movie is too long and with too large a cast, spawning boring sideplots featuring extraneous characters. Bazmee uses scatological humor to get cheap laughs. How cheap? A character stops in the middle of a footchase in order to break wind. No set up or context, just a fart for its own sake. 7-year-old boys will find it hilarious.

In Ready, Bazmee’s bad habits are made manifest in a side story involving one of Sanjana’s cousins, a rude schoolboy named Amar. Prem scares the boy’s rudeness out of him so effectively that the kid pees his pants, as shown in a closeup of the boy’s crotch. Gross.

There’s no need for the side story except to reinforce the moral of the movie: respect your elders. The moral message would make sense if Prem and Sanjana hadn’t spent the entirety of the film tricking and lying to the older members of their families.

The way language is used in the movie could present a problem for audience members who don’t understand Hindi. The English subtitles seem to translate dialog verbatim and don’t capture the flavor of jokes that rely on wordplay. Since that’s the case with so many of the jokes, English-only audience members miss out on much of the fun.