Bachchhan Paandey could have been funnier, less gory

Kriti Sanon and Akshay Kumar in Bachchhan Paandey. Photo: Instagram / Kriti Sanon

Sajid Nadiadwala must be careful: his Kick, Dishoom, the Baaghi franchise and Heropanti were about good action. With Tadap last year, and now Bachchhan Paandey, he gets a shade over-the-top in violence rather than action and the dark tenor. The last two examples are classic cases of justifying on-screen heroes with threadbare excuses for their limitless brutality. In this day and age, negative characters do not get endorsement from the janata janardhan, irrespective of whether a major star plays the role or not.

Bachchhan Paandey narrates the tale of a don operating from Baghwa (the real Baghwa is a small village in Bihar), who kills, burns alive, hammers and tortures those who come in his way, oppose or humiliate him. A media reporter is killed because he writes a “good” article on him but shows him as a caricature in the illustrated cover story. That’s to show an example.

Bachchhan (Akshay Kumar) has a devoted coterie of followers, led by Kandi (Saharsh Kumar Shukla), Pendulum (Abhimanyu Singh), Virgin (Prateik Babbar) and Bufferia (Sanjay Mishra).

Then there is, in Mumbai, ambitious and feisty assistant film director Myra (Kriti Sanon) who is humiliated too—by her boss (Nasser Abdullah), who throws her out of his film for helping out with a great idea. She now wants to be an independent director and decides to make a biopic on a criminal. She homes in on Bachchhan, about whom she hears horrendous reports, and heads for Baghwa.

Helping her is her old bum-chum Vishu (Arshad Warsi), whose dream is to be a lead actor, as per his late father’s wish. He reluctantly decides to help her research the dreaded gang-lord because of this ambition, despite his better sense warning him.

From here to the making and release of the film as B.P., the director takes us on a ride where humor and violence alternate, but the fun element should have been much more, in fact, dominant. Akshay Kumar is no stranger to the fun and crime mix with Welcome and Rowdy Rathore, in which the ratios of fun to action were different, yet wholesome. Here, as said before, the action is substituted by violence.

The humor, ignoring some (literally) toilet examples, is generally funny, and that is why it all pinches, as it could have been worked in much more. The acting teacher, Bhaves Bhoplo (Pankaj Tripathi), is a scream by himself.

The back-story of Bachchhan and his girlfriend Sophie (Jacqueline Fernandez) is alright, as is the emotional angle between Bachchhan and his chief cohorts. The angle of Bachchhan’s mother who does not talk to him for a decade and yet does all the housework seems a shade contrived, especially with her turnaround.

The film ends on a happy and humorous note and that is added reason why the story should have been preceded by far less of unpalatable crime on the part of the protagonists.

Akshay Kumar continues with his penchant for slipping into every kind of role with an effortless smoothness. Kriti Sanon owns the film in a way—she sparkles in every scene, especially with Akshay and Arshad, and her expressions are wonderful. Arshad Warsi is correctly low-key in his humor, which makes his performance all the more impactful. Saharsh Kumar Shukla is excellent as Kandi, and Abhimanyu Singh is good as Pendulum. But we wonder why Mohan Agashe (as Bachchhan’s mentor), Seema Biswas (as his mother) and Sanjay Mishra (as the stammering Bufferia) took on roles that did not do justice to their talents.

Camerawork (Gavenic U. Ary) and VFX (NY VFXWalas) are of admirable standards. Anl Arasu’s action is spectacular, even when it gets a shade excessive, when we consider his creativity within that dark zone. Julius Packiam’s music is generally good but gets loud on occasion. Farhad Samji’s direction proves that he is far better at total comedy (Housefull 4), while the script proves that too many cooks do not enhance this broth.

As for the songs: there is one Arijit Singh-Shreya Ghoshal duet wherein Punjabi intrudes again in the wrong state (words like lakhvaari, Heer, Ranjhana et al!) that tries hard to be melodious but falls short. And there are a plethora of old songs used in bits and pieces. But then, who expects good new music in a Hindi film nowadays?

All in all, when you come out of the movie hall, you do not feel cheated, but you do not feel fully entertained either. Bachchhan Paandey, if you can ignore the gore, is not a bore, but not much more, which it could have been.

Rating: ***

Nadiadwala Grandsons Entertainment present Bachchhan Paandey  Produced by: Sajid Nadiadwala  Directed by: Farhad Samji  Written by:Sajid Nadiadwala, Farhad Samji, Tushar Hiranandani, Sparsh Khetarpal, Tasha Bhambra & Zeishan Quadri  Music: B. Praak, Amaal Mallik, Jaani, Vikram Montrose & Roy Starring: Akshay Kumar, Kriti Sanon, Arshad Warsi, Jacqueline Fernandez, Abhimanyu Singh, Saharsh Kumar Shukla, Sanjay Mishra, Seema Biswas, Mohan Agashe, Sp.App.: Pankaj Tripathi & others





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