2 Stars (out of 4)
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Amitabh Bachchan built his reputation as an action star in the ’70s, the types of characters he played earning him the nickname the “Angry Young Man.” Now in his late-sixties, Bbuddah…Hoga Terra Baap presents Bachchan as the angry old man.
Bachchan plays Vijju, an assassin hired by the mafia to murder Karan (Sonu Sood), a police chief determined to rid Mumbai of organized crime. In between two failed attempts on Karan’s life, Vijju befriends a young woman named Amrita (Charmy Kaur), best friend of Karan’s beloved, Tanya (Sonal Chauhan). Vijju humiliates Karan publicly for his mistreatment of Tanya. This can’t be the behavior of a seasoned assassin, can it?
From the second Vijju appears onscreen, it’s clear that this is Bachchan’s movie. He saunters through a busy airport, clad in a white suit with a colorful scarf wrapped around his neck. Vijju threatens a customs agent who draws attention to his age in front of a group of pretty girls. The agent gets off more lightly than anyone else in the movie who dares call Vijju buddah (“old man”).
The filmmakers go so far as to include a thank you note to Bachchan at the end of the film, as if appearing was a favor on Bachchan’s part, and not just another acting job.
Such narrow focus leaves the characters surrounding Bachchan woefully underdeveloped, and none of them makes even a hint of emotional progress as the story develops. Amrita is annoying, and Tanya is pouty and childish. Chauhan’s beauty aside, there’s nothing appealing about Tanya as a romantic lead.
Karan is problematic in that he’s supposed to be one of the good guys, and yet he’s as brutal as the gangsters he wants to drive from the city. He tortures prisoners, stalks Tanya and doesn’t hesitate to put innocent citizens in harm’s way for the sake of a shootout.
There’s an irritating sideplot involving Amrita’s mother, Kamini (Raveena Tandon), who was once in love with Vijju. It’s introduced abruptly, adds nothing to the story and is dropped without resolution.
Bachchan himself is as reliable as ever. He’s exciting to watch during the action scenes, and clever and charming the rest of the time. It’s too bad the rest of the film doesn’t live up to his compelling performance. Rather than creating a film specifically to pay tribute to Bachchan, director Puri Jagannadh would’ve been better off writing a solid movie, casting the superstar and letting him elevate it the way he so often does.