Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 1979 cult-classic Gol Maal – the film that, ahem, ‘inspired’ Rohit Shetty’s Bol Bachchan – remains a benchmark in Indian comedy [much like 1994’s Andaz Apna Apna, but that’s a different story altogether]. An implausible, slightly farcical plot was brought gleefully to life by a marvelously deadpan Amol Palekar, as well as by hilarious turns by Utpal Dutt, Dina Pathak and Deven Verma. Mistaken identities, chase sequences, lies to cover up other lies – the film employed all the hooks of a traditional farce, and yet the laughs were underplayed and understated, and there was heart alongside the humor.
If you haven’t seen Gol Maal yet, stop reading this review and buy/download a copy now.
For those of you reading ahead anyway… Shetty’s Bol Bachchan is Gol Maal for the 21st century – if the 21st century aesthetic involves a fascination for cars blowing up that brings to mind David Cronenberg’s Crash, loud, over-the-top humor that throws every comedy cliché & overdone one-liners at us with wild farcical abandon [Remember the SMS joke that goes: Q. ‘Nisaar paida kese hua?’ A. ‘Jawaan jaaneman, haseen dilruba, mile do dil jawan, Nisaar ho gaya!’ Guffaw! Well, you’ll find that joke, and more of its kin, in Bol Bachchan], and action set-pieces and stunts inspired by our local gandaasa-wielding superJatts.
But given the raging success of Shetty’s own Golmaal series, and films like Housefull 2, Ready, Wanted [read: any Salman Khan action-dramedy], the formula seems to be working.
Not that I’m complaining. Bol Bachchan proves to be paisa vasool entertainment – especially if you’re watching it in the cinemas with a group of friends… it’s just that the material is so derivative – it not only borrows its concept and practically lifts certain scenes from Gol Maal but also David Dhawan’s 2002 comedy-caper Chor Machaaye Shor [more on this later]. Rohit and co. could have done a lot more to expand on the original premise, add dashes of wit with all the slapstick, but instead chose to go the tried-and-tested-and-tried-again route of comedy that caters to the lowest common denominator.
I mean, we’ve seen Abhishek play the over-the-top gay character [and do a much superior job of it] in Dostana. We’ve seen the English malapropisms in every stock supporting character employed for comic relief. Where the original was groundbreaking in its humor, Bol Bachchan succeeds only in bits and pieces; its imposed action brought on by a family feud may scream ‘big budget’, but even that works as a deterrent in the post-interval sequences.
But before I go on...
The Plot: Abbas Ali [Abhishek] and sister Sania [Asin] arrive at Ranakpur after losing an ancestral property case. Once there, Abbas creates a stir by saving a drowning boy – only he breaks the lock of a Hindu [red flag! Red flag!] temple to do so, and to avoid a riot – pitchforks et al – his friend introduces him as ‘Abhishek Bachchan’ to an impressed landlord Prithviraj [Ajay Devgn]. He’s then hired by Prithviraj – who, by the way, hates liars [cue: farce!] enough to hospitalize them… and soon begins a Comedy Circus [quite literally; you’ll see familiar faces from the Indian TV show] where Abbas aka Abhishek invents a mustache-less gay twin brother and a twin mother and aunt [Archana Puran Singh] to cover up his lie.
Romance blossoms between Abbas and Prithviraj’s sister [Prachi Desai], and Prithviraj & Sania. A lot of cars get blown up. Cover-up upon cover-up, madcap situation upon madcap situation later, love prevails even where dozens of vehicles don’t.
Okay, a concrete piece of advice: if you’re going to watch BB, skip/fast-forward the title sequence. Himesh Reshammiya’s terribly below-average title track is an utter bore to watch, despite a cameo appearance by Amitabh Bachchan. In fact, Reshammiya’s music in general is a sore point of the movie, with the only exception being guest composer duo Ajay-Atul’s ‘Nach Le’.
Performances-wise, Ajay Devgn goes all out with his ridiculous attempts at speaking English; most of his one-liners are incredibly hilarious. The only minus is that the makers don’t really know when the joke’s run thin. In action sequences, he’s still suffering from a Singham hangover, but action remains Devgn’s forte and he plays those sequences to the gallery. Abhishek Bachchan gets the sincerity of Abbas dead-on. His portrayal of his own gay twin, however, is funny in parts, but horribly caricatured/crass in others, such as in a pre-interval dance sequence that starts off comical and ends up embarrassing and plain uncomfortable. The two leading ladies, Asin & Prachi Desai, have limited scope; Asin perhaps with the meatier role in the initial frames before she’s forgotten in favor of the two male leads. I found the subplot featuring Asin & Ajay to be utterly ridiculous and unwarranted. So Asin had an actual, unrelated doppelganger? Really? Out of the supporting characters, Archana Puran Singh steals the show with her Zohra/Madhumati double-act. Even though her character is a complete rip-off of Shekhar Suman’s Guru from Chor Machaye Shor [Archana, like Suman, plays dress-up as Abhishek’s ‘mother’ and also a nautanki-wali], she gleefully hams it up and leaves audiences in splits. For me, she was one of the best things about the film. The rest of the cast is serviceable; each getting a solid one-liner or two.
Speaking of Chor Machaye Shor, I’m surprised more people haven’t noticed the similarities between Bol Bachchan and the Bobby Deol starrer [which also borrowed from the Gol Maal formula of a man pretending to have a non-mustached twin]. There’s this one scene in particular involving locking one ‘brother’ to go to the house and for a ‘shakki’ police officer [Om Puri in Chor Machaye Shor] to confirm the other exists that’s copy/pasted almost frame-for-frame in Bol Bachchan.
See what I mean when I say there’s little that’s original or inventive in the movie?
Nevertheless, the furious pacing [at least in the first half], larger-than-life canvas, some individual comedic scenes, zany-if-predictable situations and dialogues that find their way as our Facebook statuses make Bol Bachchan a fun one-time watch.
It’s just that no-one who’s seen the original [Gol Maal] would ever call it forgettable.
As for Bol Bachchan… well.
— Osman Khalid Butt
Madagascar 3 *** 1/2
*ing: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer, Sacha Baron Cohen and Cedric the Entertainer.
Directed by: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath and Conrad Vernon
Tagline: Europe’s Most Wanted
Hollywood always manages to cater to all age groups and movies like Alvin and the Chipmunks, Puss in Boots, Shrek etc. are all on the list. Joining the ranks of super-entertainers for all ages is Madagascar, instalments of which have been entertaining us for years now. The creators of Madagascar, Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath have been joined by Conrad Vernon from Shrek 2 and you can tell they were all full of ideas which have been stuffed into the film. With kids on summer vacation, Madagascar 3 did brilliant business, and also proved to be the best of the bunch otherwise, as Alex, Melman, Marty and Gloria go on another madcap adventure in Europe.
Madagascar 3 picks up from where Escape to Africa ended, and our furry friends are eager more than ever to get back home to their zoo in New York. New characters added interest to the storyline, and the jokes had everyone holding onto their seats to keep from falling off. The great thing about the humour was that it wasn’t raunchy, as with Puss in Boots, nor was it cheesy, keeping in mind this was a kids’ film and the makers could get away with as little intelligence as possible. The concept was a good one, with messages of helping, sharing, caring and other small virtues.
In places though, the jokes were above what children could understand. Madagascar 3 also had kind of a final feel to it - the directors worked pulled off all the aspects they could to end the franchise with a fine ending. It may not win any awards but it will definitely make you laugh no matter what.. The movie is hilarious, full of excitement and dazzling animation that pleases the entire family.
One of the things that can be said for Madagascar 3 is that it made good use of 3D elements, and makes for a richly rewarding 3D experience. With great visuals and a crisp script – Madagascar 3 is sure to entertain the little ones and the not so little ones alike.
— Faiz Rohani