Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Bol Bachchan: All talk, no substance
A one-line review saying “this is a Rohit Shetty” film would suffice for most movies this director churns out with billion-rupee regularity, but “Bol Bachchan” is different. This time, Shetty has attempted to remake one of Hindi cinema’s most iconic comedies, one which shares its name with the series of films that gave Shetty his first hits in the industry.
In re-imagining “Gol Maal“, Shetty is taking up a gauntlet that he should have left well alone. Hrishikesh Mukherjee‘s brand of comedy couldn’t be more different than Shetty’s and in trying to combine the two, the film ends up going nowhere.
Mukherjee’s 1979 comedy of errors, about a meek protagonist who tries to fool his boss into thinking he is two different people, is also at the heart of “Bol Bachchan”, except Shetty spikes it with a liberal dose of item songs, inane dialogue, and of course, exploding vehicles.
Abhishek Bachchan plays Abbas, an unemployed youth who comes to a small village in Rajasthan with his sister Saina, hoping to improve his lot in life. In his attempt to save a child from drowning, Abbas inadvertently breaks open the lock of a temple, and invites the attention of Prithviraj (played by Ajay Devgn), the local ‘king’.
Shetty is obviously trying to bring the communal harmony angle here, but like most things in this movie, this is half-hearted and gets lost amid dialogues like “my chest has become blouse” (yes, really).
Abbas (now answering to the name Abhishek Bachchan) starts working for Prithviraj, which mostly means beating up rivals and rescuing his sister Radhika (Prachi Desai) from their clutches. When Prithviraj spots Abbas at a Muslim prayer meeting, confusion ensues and there are cover-ups and forced gags galore to fill up the rest of the film.
Unlike “Gol Maal”, which was intelligent comedy, free from slapstick and crass humour, “Bol Bachchan” caters to the lowest common denominator. The bar here is extremely low. Abhishek Bachchan tries to make the best of it, putting in an earnest performance in a double role. Ajay Devgn doesn’t seem to have recovered from the “Singham” hangover and flexes his muscles, but doesn’t trouble the ones in his face, rendering it expressionless most of the time.
Whether you should watch “Bol Bachchan” or not depends on whether you prefer Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s brand of humour or Rohit Shetty’s. My vote goes to the first — there is so much more to laugh about and applaud than “Bol Bachchan” will ever give you. I’m re-watching “Gol Maal” this weekend.