Why is it that movies espousing the belief that “crime doesn’t pay” spend so much time glamorizing the ways in which crime pays?
Badmaash Company‘s (“Rogue Company”) protagonist is Karan (Shahid Kapoor), a recent college graduate from a middle class family. His father (Anupam Kher), who’s worked for the same company for 25 years, expects him to earn an MBA and follow a similar path. But Karan dreams of making it rich as his own boss.
Karan and his buddies, Zing (Meiyang Chang) and Chandu (Vir Das), try to make fast money carrying goods from Bangkok to India on behalf of a smuggler who uses them to avoid paying the import tariff. An assertive girl named Bulbul (Anushka Sharma) joins them on the trip, quickly becoming friends with the trio and falling for Karan.
The quartet devises a way to import goods and skirt the tariff. They make a lot of money, until the Indian government drops the tariff from 120% to 20%, destroying their profit margin.
Karan’s father realizes that his son’s sudden wealth isn’t from a legitimate job and kicks him out of the house. Karan, Bulbul, Zing and Chandu then fly to America to recreate their scheme. Karan’s uncle, Jazz (Pavan Malhotra), provides the financing, though he doesn’t know the illicit nature of their business. The scheme works until alcohol, ego, and suspicion from the authorities destroy the crew’s business and their friendship.
Of course, when things are going well, they go really well. There are dance numbers in bars and shots of the characters shopping at Prada and stepping out of limousines. People sell their souls for less. If the movie wants to show how dangerous greed is, why make it look so cool?
One reason is that it’s easier to show montages of characters doing neat stuff than it is to script meaningful dialogue. It’s a shame, since the scenes of character interaction are good. Early in the film, Karan and Bulbul talk about their plans for the future over coffee, the first date in their budding romance. Kapoor and Sharma have an easy rapport that is enjoyable to watch.
Sharma’s confident Bulbul is crucial to the film’s success. She acts as the face of the business, flattering the buyers without being overtly sexy. She’s the kind of woman men want to make happy, even if they don’t expect anything in return.
Badmaash Company‘s problem, odd as it may seem, is a lack of exposition. There’s no explanation for a rift between Jazz and Karan’s father. And the inevitable reunion between father and son is limited to a shared look with no conversation. It didn’t have the same emotional impact as a Karan admitting his failings and asking forgiveness would have.
That said, the story is reasonably well told and the acting quite good. There are worse ways to spend 2 hours and 24 minutes.