Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Action Replayy: The past ain’t pretty
It’s easy to romanticise the past, isn’t it? Easy to think back to the time when bell bottoms and “arranged” marriages were the norm and tell ourselves it was a much better time. The past has that intangible quality of making us all look a little better, even to ourselves. Perhaps that is why Bollywood is going back to the past so much nowadays, making films about every period but the present.
Director Vipul Shah certainly seems to believe in reliving the past in “Action Replayy”, as do his main characters but they relive it so badly you want to shake them back to the present. The past here holds no romance, there are only bad wigs and garish clothes to represent it.
Aditya Roy Kapoor plays Bunty, a young man witness to the bitterness in his parents’ marriage. He tells his girlfriend he would never make the same mistake as his parents. However, when his parents (Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) threaten each other with divorce, he decides to go back to the past to try and save their marriage. Conveniently, the above-mentioned girlfriend has a madcap scientist grandfather waiting in the background, ready with a time machine (apparently the only thing scientists invent in films).
Bunty hops on to the machine and goes back to 1975, hoping if he can turn his parents’ arranged marriage into love, they will magically fall back in love in the present. He lands in the Mumbai of the past, where if you believe director Shah, everything happened in and around Victoria Terminus, including rock concerts. The Mumbai landmark is seen in every scene, as are people with loud make-up, huge sunglasses and polka-dotted clothes.
Bunty meets Kishen and Mala in their youth, convinces them they should have a “love marriage” fending off dominating fathers and scheming bachelors in the process.
The whole film is so inane it is difficult to put on paper. In one scene, Mala actually agrees to a contest between her two suitors, agreeing to marry the one who can — get this — sing in the most number of voices.
Shah has absolutely no control on this film — at the end of “Action Replayy” you have no idea why everyone acted the way they did — you are just glad it’s over and you can finally go home. Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai could have been styled so much better, at least it would have made up for the lack of acting on their part. Rannvijay and Neha Dhupia in supporting roles do nothing much except lurk in corners.
Going back in to the past can be a good thing sometimes, especially when the present seems so bleak. I suggest you spend this Diwali watching television to get a taste of some real 70s romance.