By Hindustan Times
Director: Nishikanth Kamath
Actors: John Abraham, Genelia D’Souza
In what seems like a line scripted by the film’s hero himself, actor John Abraham says in this movie, “I’m scared of two things in life: dance and drama.” We know. There’s hence little of the latter, and none of the former in this flick. Which is fair.
This lead character, admittedly a virgin, personifies the opposite of male charm. The heroine chases him instead. Relentlessly. What does he do for sex? He’s never been interested. At some point he complains, “Aajkal ladkiyon ke liye ladke item ho gaye hain (These days, guys have become commodities for women)” – they size up a man’s body, height, weight, and just feel like having sex with them! Upsetting. Indeed.
'But hold on, John. John, hold on. It’s gonna be alright. You gonna win the fight'. Which is what he’s really here for: a brooding officer with stubble tattoos across both his hands and shoulders, buffed up like a scary nightclub bouncer, he can lift a motorcycle over his head, at once restoring faith in the quality of this nation’s police force that we otherwise know for its pot-bellied pandu hawaldars.
John the Rambo belongs to a crack team of the narcotics bureau. He’s devoted his life to dismantling drug cartels that operate across the country, spreading the menace of mandrax, heroin, cocaine. Which, more often than not, originate from Afghanistan. Drugs equal terrorism. When kids snort Charlie at nightclubs, he says, little do they know they’re at the same time funding the siege of the Taj in Colaba. It’s a cause worth fighting for. And since you asked: He’s averse to women, because that will mean attachment. Something he can’t afford.
The writers have at least made an attempt to put some sense into their supposed script. Though I suppose the background may have been unnecessary. That’s not what most falling for this film will be striking off their checklist. Force is about rapid action. Only. Enough guns go off. As importantly, punches land hard -- hinterland audiences call this mukkabaazi. They could be pleased. Brooding Rambo eventually takes his shirt off. So does the lunatic anti-hero. This picture is yet another remake of a southern, in this case, Tamil hit (Khakha Khakha; that is some movie title, you've to admit).
You could see this film following the return of seriously mind-numbing violence at the theatres (Ready, Singham, Bodyguard etc). But that’ll only be partly accurate. Action mainly for action’s sake had never really left the building. It’s been the staple for Bollywood, right from Master Vithal in the ‘20s, to Mr Mithun in the ‘90s. This is as true for Hollywood, the only other film industry that makes assembly lined products for massive, mass consumption. Dara Singhs, Dharmendras of show-world have posed half-naked in “sword and sandal” flicks before.
Merely the budgets of these movies have significantly gone up since the unprecedented single-screen success of Salman Khan’s Wanted (2009). The filmmaker (better known for his more personal, indie stuff: Dombivli Fast, Mumbai Meri Jaan) gets to display his visual chops every now and then. There's mild mastery in that swinging revenge sequence, set to a vaguely operatic score, inter-cut with a cop's cremation scene. Direction here is in the design alone, or sometimes in the over-design.
Lovers of mukkabazi won’t care. They prefer their Salman with loads of cheese. They could find this virgin hero knocking the crap out of roadside mawalis and gun-toting musclemen enticing enough. Consumers usually don’t discriminate between products that deliver on their simple promises. They have few reasons to. One McDonald’s is just as good as another; Sallu, probably as deadly as any other well-known Lallu. May the farce be with you.
The villain’s new (Vidyut Jamwal, fairly striking presence). In one scene, he guns down his minion’s brother, just so that fellow can feel the pain of losing a sibling. Since he has. Perfect. That minion starts working for him better! Does it get better than this? There’s only one way to find out. Per-force, I had to.