Bol Bachchan

Bol Bachchan
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Abhishek Bachchan, Asin, Prachi Desai, Asrani, Archana Puran Singh

Director: Rohit Shetty

Indian Express Ratings:**1/2

This is a Rohit Shetty film. Which means it is full of primary colours. I counted a red-blue-green-yellow palette more than a couple of times, all in the same frame. It is full of cars and jeeps hurtling down roads and crashing and smashing. It is full of Ajay Devgn, which is a given because Shetty and Devgn are long-time collaborators; plus, the star is the producer of the film. But this time around, there's a slight difference. It's also got Abhishek Bachchan, and that makes 'Bol Bachchan' not as much a Rohit Shetty film as his previous ones, which is not such a bad thing : I laughed more in this one than I have in his previous loud comedies.

Prithvi (Devgn) is a `pehelwaan' who lives in a Rajasthani 'haveli' in a village called Ranakpur . Which allows him to be surrounded by a bunch of muscle-bound, dhoti-clad body-builders, get called 'hukum' by his serfs, and act like a benevolent despot to the villagers. Abbas (Bachchan) fetches up at Prithvi's doorstep, goaded by a helpful family friend (Asrani). Owing to a twist, which involves a `mandir' and a drowning boy and local sentiments, perfectly fitting in a film like this, the Muslim Abbas has to masquerade as the Hindu Abhishek. For good measure, the Bachchan surname is also added in. So Abhishek Bachchan gets to do what very few actors manage : play a character with the same name as their own.

This is where Shetty's tribute to Hrishikesh Mukherjee's classic 'Golmal' kicks in. Prithvi, like the Utpal Dutt character, hates liars. But because he is not as old as the Dutt character, it is not a daughter who falls for the Janus-faced Abbas-Abhishek, but a sister (Desai). And to keep the balance, Abbas-Abhishek is also given a sister (Asin), who becomes Prithvi's lady love. But because it is the job of the men to keep us regaled, with their jokes and their biceps, the women are relegated to being colourful add ons, for the songs and to be part of the crowd. Whatever happened to leading ladies as comediennes in their own right? Archana Puran Singh, who also plays a double (an aging 'mujre-wali', and a fake mother) has some jokes, and in keeping with the general tone of the film, sometimes succeeds in landing a punchline.

I am revealing no secrets when I give you these details, because the film is so relentlessly out there, keeping nothing close to its chest, which becomes blouse. Err, what? Here goes the secret of the chest that mysteriously becomes blouse. Prithvi thinks he is super proficient in the English language, and massacres it happily. The dialogue writers have worked very hard to give him these lines, which he first speaks in Hindi, and then quickly supplies the Angrezi version. We will let you find out exactly what the Hindi original for 'chests and blouses' was. Till then, ruminate over this one : When elders become cozy, youngers don't put their nosy.

Yes, it is that kind of film. And what it does is give Bachchan Jr a part that gives him more to do than he has in his previous string of duds : his comic tone is not as loud as his father's could be when required ( Amitabh shows up in a song in the beginning, looking seriously a greybeard, and there are a string of famous Amitabh lines strewn through the film just in case we've forgotten the connection between father and son)but Abhishek has become better at doing broad than he used to. His limp-wristed, swaying-waist act, replete with printed shirts and bitten lips, is as cliched as Bollywood gay representations go, but he gets some swing into it. This is an Abhishek who is loosened up enough to have some fun, and provide some in turn.

Devgn is still in `Singham' mode, chest rippling, not in blouse, but in collared long kurtas and lean jeans, bashing up the bad guys. But because he is a good comic, he does let an occasional line rip. If your nosy is not turned up too high, 'Bol Bachchan', less blaring than your standard Rohit Shetty comedy, can give you sporadic chuckles, and a few helpess laughs. Can't expect more.

shubhra.gupta@expressindia.com

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