My friend Shah Shahid graciously invited me back to the Split Screen Podcast to review Padmaavat, deviating from our usual remake comparison format to tackle this controversial new film. In Episode 33, we don’t discuss the protests leading up to the film’s release but focus instead on the good, the bad, and the problematic elements of the movie itself. Shah makes some great points about the way directors lead audiences toward certain emotional reactions, and we debate whether or not that was properly executed in Padmaavat.
In a first for the Split Screen Podcast, Shah Shahid and I spent an entire episode comparing two movie trailers! That’s because the trailer for Salman Khan’s upcoming flick Tubelight is almost beat-for-beat the same as the trailer for the movie on which it’s based: Little Boy. Check out the two trailers at the bottom of this post for yourself, then listen to the podcast to hear our thoughts.
At long last, Shah Shahid and I reunite for another episode of the Split Screen Podcast, this time comparing the films Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and Badrinath Ki Dulhania. We were inspired to tackle the “Dulhania” franchise in Episode 28 because of how wildly the two films differ in their representations of gender equality in romantic relationships. In short, everything great about the main characters and their relationship in Humpty goes straight down the crapper in Badrinath. Shah and I also discuss what differentiates Bollywood franchises from true sequels.
Another episode of the Split Screen Podcast featuring yours truly is live! In Episode 16, show host Shah Shahid and I compare two 2015 movies based on the 2008 Noida double murder case. Rahasya‘s release — nine months before Talvar hit screens — followed a lengthy court battle, and Shah and I discuss the legal drama surrounding the films as well as the two movies themselves.
The Split Screen Podcast is back! In Episode 12, show host Shah Shahid and I initially try to view Rocky Handsome through the eyes of someone who’s never seen the South Korean movie on which it’s based, but the gloves come off once we start comparing Rocky to The Man From Nowhere, one of my favorite action films. As our pal Parth Gandhi tweeted: “Won Bin >>>> John Abraham.”
Another episode of the Split Screen Podcast featuring yours truly is now available for your listening pleasure. In Episode 11, show host Shah Shahid and I discuss why the Bollywood flick We Are Family is an inferior copy of the Hollywood film Stepmom and struggle to determine why the little boy in We Are Family even exists.
Episode 10 of the Split Screen Podcast is now live. In this episode, show host Shah Shahid and I compare Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s 2015 Bollywood thriller Jazbaa to its inspiration, the Korean film Seven Days. Shah and I agree that Seven Days is the superior movie, though Shah is a little more forgiving of Jazbaa director Sanjay Gupta’s quirks than I am.
2003’s Boom was brought to my attention by Shah Shahid of Blank Page Beatdown as an example of a movie that is so bad that it is actually good. Shah Shahid is absolutely correct. This is a terrible movie that is a lot of fun to watch.
Let me clarify what, in my opinion, makes a movie “so bad, it’s good.” The movie must be entertaining or funny in an unintentional way. “So bad, it’s good” movies can never be made ironically or with any kind of self-awareness. They result from the earnest efforts of a filmmaker that fall woefully short of competence and quality.
There also has to be a sort of inevitability to the failure, as though anyone reading the script would think, “This will never work.” And yet the filmmaker manages to secure the money to make it and convinces people to participate in the filming, in spite of what should be glaring flaws. My best Bollywood example — before having seen Boom — is Jism 2. Birdemic and The Room are my favorite American examples.
Boom meets all the criteria. Writer-director Kaizad Gustad clearly envisioned making a sexy, edgy crime flick to push the boundary of what passes for good taste in India. It fails miserably.
Setting the action within the fashion industry allows Gustad to cast his three main actresses for their willingness to don revealing outfits, and not for their acting ability. In the film’s opening scene, a bra-less Padma Lakshmi struts the catwalk in a see-through shirt, the opening salvo in a barrage of breasts that continues throughout the film.
Lakshmi plays Sheila, one of a trio of model friends that includes Katrina Kaif (in her film debut) as Rina. The group is led by Anu (Madhu Sapre), who’s presumably in charge because she’s the only native-born Indian. The foreign-born status of Sheila and Rina — who speak primarily in English in the film — is mentioned often, seemingly to justify their wearing skimpier outfits than Anu.
The friends find themselves in trouble when Anu fights with another model in the middle of a fashion show, and dozens of stolen diamonds spill onto the runway from their hiding place in the model’s hairdo. The other model flees, leaving the three ladies to account for the missing diamonds.
The diamonds were supposed to make their way to Dubai, home of crime boss Bade Mia (Amitabh Bachchan) and his brother, Medium (Gulshan Grover). Bade’s co-conspirator in Mumbai, Chhote Mia (Jackie Shroff), sends his muscle, Boom (Javed Jaffrey), to force the trio of models to cooperate. Things get complicated when Boom starts making his own plans, with the help of the models’ maid, Bharti (Seema Biswas).
The plot doesn’t make a lick of sense. Boom’s scheme to get out of debt to Bade involves stealing Bade’s own diamonds from him, then selling them back to Bade. This is the same Bade who snaps one of his employees necks because the toilet paper in his hotel was folded incorrectly. Sending a bunch of inexperienced models in to negotiate with Bade and Medium seems phenomenally stupid.
Also stupid: getting the models high before forcing them to rob a bank, although the mass-hallucination dance party that they experience mid-robbery is spectacular.
Predictably, the film’s ending makes no sense. Turns out Bharti and Bade’s oft-humiliated secretary, Alice (Zeenat Aman), are criminal masterminds in their own right. Apparently, they schemed for years in the hope that, one day, Anu would accidentally pick a fight with the one model who happened to be smuggling diamonds, thereby providing them with a means to ascend to the top of the underworld.
But plot irregularities are the least of Boom‘s problems. The performances are crazy, across the board. Kaif and Sapre are almost unbearable in their big screen debuts, making Lakshmi look like Meryl Streep by comparison. Aman and Biswas are fine, given the odd tasks that are required of them, including Aman doing a table dance in a conference room.
All of the male characters — apart from Medium — are completely wacky, and bless the actors for playing them as such. Bachchan sports a white wig and drives around a Toys R’ Us in a child-sized motorized car. Shroff growls through his dialog while sitting behind a desk that his female assistant lives under. He also licks a newspaper photo of Bo Derek.
Did I forget to mention that Boom features Bo Derek in the world’s most under-utilized cameo? Besides having her photo licked and having Bade bark to Alice, “Get me Bo!”, Bo — who’s in either Mumbai or Dubai (or both?) for a book signing — is only seen in Bade’s dream sequence, emerging from the ocean in a gold saree. She has no dialog and doesn’t interact with anyone else in the cast.
While the model characters dress rather butch when they’re not sporting bikini tops, Bade and Chhote wear outfits that even Liberace would consider garish. Bade dresses in all white (to match his wig), favoring lacy shirts with flouncy sleeves. Chhote wears black hot pants with a shirt that appears to actually be a lady’s sheer, fur-trimmed robe.
Jaffrey’s Boom is equally over-the-top. His giant handgun is an obvious metaphor for his penis, made that much more obvious when he lays it on his lap, barrel pointed toward his face, and strokes it for a good two minutes. When he’s not stroking his gun, he pokes the models in the breasts with it as a way of emphasizing his conversational points.
As is always the case with “so bad, it’s good” movies, a written account of Boom‘s oddities does not do it justice. It must be seen to be believed. It’s awful, but it’s always entertaining.