Tag Archives: Sabbir Khan

Movie Review: Baaghi (2016)

BaaghiEntertainment Factor: 3.5 Stars (out of 4)
Quality Factor: 1 Star

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Baaghi‘s sheer ineptitude is its greatest asset. It assembles a hodgepodge of movie cliches into something inadvertently hilarious.

Right off the bat, the movie hints at the stupidity to come. A henchman, Biju, enters the lair of the villain, Raghav (Sudheer Babu). “We found her,” Biju declares, handing his boss…a magazine with a woman on the cover?! Either Biju is the world’s worst detective, or this woman is the world’s worst at hiding.

Probably the latter. The woman is Siya (Shraddha Kapoor), who has some sort of disorder the film chalks up to spiritedness. Siya giggles whenever it rains, and she yells at the clouds when it stops. This is her entire character.

Despite being a mental lightweight, Siya’s beauty charms two men for whom nothing must matter but looks: Raghav and Ronny (Tiger Shroff), a standard issue Bollywood man-child brat whose overwhelming character flaws are forgiven because he’s cute.

In a flashback, we see Ronny fall in love with Siya on a train journey south to Kerala. She’s visiting her grandmother, and he’s joining a martial arts academy. He arrives at the academy bearing a note from his dad, who’s basically Chappy from Iron Eagle: “By the time you read this, I’ll be dead.” The head of the school is Chappy’s former comrade, and the note begs the headmaster to turn butthole Ronny into a decent human being.

There is no indication that Ronny knows or cares that his father is dead.

Raghav falls for Siya on the same train trip, despite never actually talking to her (which explains everything). She has no clue who he is. In addition to being the head of an international crime syndicate based in Bangkok, he’s also the headmaster’s best student… and son!

While Ronny romances Siya and gets Miyagi’d into shape by the headmaster, Raghav bribes Siya’s piece of crap dad (Sunil Grover) for her hand in marriage. A bunch of stuff happens that drives all the characters apart and out of Kerala, leading us back to the start of the film, with Raghav “finding” Siya and kidnapping her.

Siya’s piece of crap dad pays Ronny to rescue Siya, a job Ronny only agrees to because he needs the money to — I shit you not — pay for surgery to help a mute little boy speak again. The mute boy can only say, “Ya ya,” which he does all the freaking time. The surgery is only mentioned once, with zero followup.

During a fight scene, the boy gets thrown about in the best cinematic instance of child-tossing since Gunda‘s Shankar tossed his adopted daughter to a monkey. There’s also a shootout at a quarry, again evoking Gunda imagery (as does all of the terrible acting and plot construction).

Speaking of evoking other movies, director Sabbir Khan and writer Sanjeev Datta boiled down the entire plot of The Raid: Redemption into one 14-minute-long action sequence. They did it so ham-handedly that the producers of The Raid took the producers of Baaghi to court. Make no mistake, the sequence is a total ripoff.

But that’s all Baaghi really is: a collection of elements of other movies awkwardly stapled together into an amateurish scrapbook. At times, the formula yields unintentionally hilarious results. Siya and Ronny make it onto a descending elevator seconds before Raghav, so what does Raghav do? He grabs a firehose and John McClanes it out the window to beat them to the ground floor!

There are many other golden moments that need to be seen to be believed, and the climax is a thing of botched beauty. Watching Shroff struggle to emote is likewise entertaining. Kapoor — who has it in her to be better than this — does nothing to help him.

Baaghi‘s worst moment is an alleged comedy sequence in which a blind cabdriver played by Sanjay Mishra molests a woman because she is Thai and wearing a miniskirt. It highlights a nasty strain of ethnocentrism in the film, which repeatedly belittles East Asian cultures. Another example is the atrocious wig the filmmakers force upon Kazu Patrick Tang, Bollywood’s all-purpose “East Asian bad guy.”

Still, it’s hard to take anything too seriously in a movie this dumb. If you’re delighted by misguided failures, Baaghi is for you. If you want to see an actual good movie, watch The Raid: Redemption.

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Movie Review: Heropanti (2014)

Heropanti_Poster0.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Heropanti (“Big Attitude”, according to the subtitles) labors under the misapprehension that it is a progressive film. Despite a couple of statements disapproving of arranged marriage, the movie ultimately ends up reinforcing the patriarchal system it thinks it’s criticizing.

The plot is the same story we’ve seen a hundred times in Hindi cinema. The hero (debutant Tiger Shroff) wants to marry a girl (Kriti Sanon), but her father (Prakash Raj) disapproves. Rather than elope with her, the hero uses his brute strength to convince her father to let the couple marry.

The action takes place in a small town over which Chaudhray (Raj) rules with an iron fist. When his eldest daughter, Renu (Sandeepa Dhar), runs off with a man, Rakesh (Devanshu Sharma), Chaudhray has his goons round up Rakesh’s friends and hold them prisoner until they disclose the couple’s whereabouts.

Shroff’s Bablu is captured along with two of his friends/lackeys and Kiki, an annoying guy who’s kidnapped by mistake. The comic relief Kiki is supposed to supply consists of him endlessly repeating the phrase, “What is the position?”

While in captivity, Bablu discloses that he’s fallen in love at first sight. This triggers a flashback to Bablu ogling a woman — Sanon’s Dimpy — on the street. He sees the same mystery woman again at a temple as he and the lackeys try to escape, and his moon-eyed staring results in their recapture. Only later does Bablu find out Dimpy’s (hilarious) name and learn that she’s Chaudhray’s youngest daughter.

Why do we need the flashback to Bablu scoping Dimpy on the street? It ruins the pacing of the story and wastes time in a movie that’s already plenty boring. Had Bablu seen Dimpy for the first time at the temple, it would’ve made their botched escape more exciting and made him a more interesting character.

As it is, Shroff’s Bablu seems like a younger knock-off of a typical Salman Khan character  — smug, invincible, and perfect except for the fact that he’s single — only with Hrithik Roshan’s physique and dance moves. With young actors like Sushant Singh Rajput, Sidharth Malhotra, and Varun Dhawan making big impressions early in their careers, Shroff seems like a throwback to a type of hero that’s on the way out. This is a perplexing film to choose for one’s debut.

Sanon shows real promise. She gives Dimpy a spark that livens up a character possessed of very little agency. It will be interesting to see what Sanon can do with a character who’s more than just a damsel in distress.

Dimpy’s in a hopeless position that gets at the crux of Heropanti‘s problems. She falls for Bablu in return but can’t act on it because Chaudhray has promised to marry her to one of his underlings. Also, Chaudhray repeatedly states that when he finds Renu, he’s going to “burn her alive.” He does find her, though director Sabbir Khan doesn’t show us what actually becomes of Renu.

Despite knowing of Chaudhray’s willingness to murder his own child to save face, Bablu tells Dimpy, “You have to fight. That’s how you get equality.” But when push comes to shove, Bablu abandons the notion of a woman’s right to choose her own marriage partner. He tells Chaudray, “I don’t want to take away your right to decide who she marries.”

Dimpy has no control over what the men around her do with her body. Before knowing her identity, Bablu gets drunk and puts his hands all over her in a darkened room. She’s left alone for all of twenty minutes in Delhi, and a gang of men try to rape her. Her father ultimately “gives” her to her groom, as though she were an object. The camera routinely zooms in on her bare torso, further objectifying her.

Heropanti is so out of touch that it’s mystifying that it was even made, let alone used as the vehicle to launch Shroff’s movie career. It’s hard to imagine the teenage girls who are Shroff’s most obvious potential fanbase being impressed by a movie that thinks they shouldn’t have control over their own lives or bodies.

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