If you take a closer look at Akshay Kumar’s recent films, you’ll realise he is positioning himself as the brand new champion of the crusade against corruption. Be it Special 26 or Holiday or Baby, khiladi kumar is using the concept of vigilante justice as the bait, and he's beating competition to pulp at their own game.
His latest Gabbar Is Back is more of the same, just that this time the stakes were astronomical. But has he played his game well this time?
The canvas unfolds in Maharashtra where the system is so rotten that the doctors perform operations on a dead body, so that they could extract money from worried relatives. There are hardly any government officials who don’t take pride in receiving bribe; in fact they consider it equivalent to some badge of honour. Police officers are busy eating ‘samosas’ while politicians are just saving their chairs.
As expected, a commoner rears his head to stand up to all this. but treading the conventional path is not his style, so he decides to use a cult film character to his benefit. Adopting a fictional name like Gabbar suits his modus operandi and blankets his real identity.
But, this is not as simple as it looks from the outset because it’s not a physical war anymore and there are many hurdles in making it an ideological struggle. Will Gabbar be able to pull off an unimaginable victory or will he fall victim to the ruthless system? Even if he wins, will he not be criticised for his radical choices?
Probably we are posing too cerebral questions to a film that thrives on grand action sequences and whistle-worthy dialogues. When initial credit sequence announces Gabbar’s arrival with this line: Bure kaam ka bura nateeja, sun bhai saale kahe tera jeeja, you more or less understand what to expect from it. Rajat Arora, the man behind the hugely popular dialogues of The Dirty Picture and Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, introduces the motive of the protagonist via one easy statement: Naam se villain, kaam se hero. This could well be the one-line brief of Akshay’s character in the film.
So, once it’s established that Gabbar is out there to save the society, the director decides to make things difficult for him by presenting a police department which is too busy making fun of a driver who speaks English and is more efficient than most officers. Determined to unmask the face behind Gabbar’s name, this constable (Sunil Grover) is soon joined by a high profile CBI officer (Jaideep Ahlawat), but their investigation remains rudderless in the absence of a common thread. A new player enters the game at this juncture who is bound to fetch Gabbar’s attention. This businessman Digvijay Patil (Suman Talwar) ups the ante by several notches and also reveals Gabbar’s past which was carefully hidden from the world. Will these disclosures present Gabbar in a new light?
The film’s screenplay has flaws but its pace covers up for most of the glitches. Gabbar Is Back attains the right tempo from the very first sequence where simultaneous kidnappings leave Maharashtra disturbed. Unlike 2002 Tamil film Ramanaa (Gabbar Is Back’s inspiration), this one doesn’t take many shots in introducing the love angle between Akshay Kumar and Shruti Haasan. They sing, dance and get done with the basics of the heroine’s work in this film. Here onwards, it strictly becomes a one-man show, and that man rises up to the occasion. And then who cares if a lawyer is helping in a child’s delivery inside a car or a mere businessman is able to wreak havoc in the city.
From showcasing physics’ importance in a common man’s life in five simple steps to mouthing wisecracks like ‘System bachchon ke diaper jaisa ho gaya hai…kahin se gila aur kahin se dheela’, Akshay Kumar just steals the thunder in most of the scenes. His hand-to-hand combat will remind you of his earlier Khiladi days where he used to bulldoze a barricade of 20 guys with just one kick. And, where these things don’t work, his lethal comic timing comes to aide.
In one innovative sequence, Akshay Kumar exposes the medical mafia. This sequence is so potent yet funny that you would want to repeat it in actual life. Similarly, the writer has tried to give a subtle message of road safety through a small accident scene. Such scenes in a mainstream film have the potential to penetrate the common movie-going audience’s mind.
However, the pressure of maintaining pace sometimes extracts indifferent reactions from the actors. For example, in one of the flashback scenes, Akshay Kumar just repeats the famous Matt LeBlanc’s signature sniffing reaction (remember Friends). In another scene, crumbling houses look too childish. Suman Talwar also emerges as a winner of the overacting game.
A deliberate attempt to present Akshay Kumar as the combination of Bhagat Singh and a modern day leader is visible from the very first scene. He has borrowed Amjad Khan’s beard and even though his political leaning are too filmy, somehow he has carried it off. But, his hidden identity seems illogical and Suman Talwar’s ignorance appears brainless. It invokes laughter when you see a glass table strategically placed at a position where Akshay Kumar would dive after being punched, but the film’s loud war cry against corruption convinces the spectator to not mind the lack of detail.
Gabbar Is Back is a full on ‘masala’ film with a lot of applause worthy scenes. The buck stops at Akshay Kumar.
And, before I finish, Honey Singh has just bettered himself. Don’t believe me? Watch Chitrangada Singh’s dance number ‘Aao Raja’ in Gabbar Is Back.