Khiladi 786 a fairly enjoyable fare

MUMBAI: Khiladi 786 is the eighth in the Khiladi series and as it was with earlier ones, this too has nothing in common with the other films of the same name. Khiladi is more like shorthand for Akahsy Kumar and though his character is from Punjab, the “786” in the title serves two purposes: it provides a title that is ready to use for an Akshay film and also to attract the Muslim audience.

Besides the 786 factor, the film’s other main characters also represent communities; Himesh Reshammiya is from a typical Gujarati family while Mithun Chakraborty and Asin are Maharashtrian. Not surprising considering Western India and North make up for over 70 per cent of box office revenues.

Since his debut film as the lead, Saugandh, every maker has made sure that Akshay’s entry scene is claptrap. Khiladi 786 keeps the tradition alive as Akshay takes on a bunch of toughies and renders them harmless at the speed of light. A claptrap narration follows: ‘Duniyamein teen cheezen hoti zaroor hai lekin kisi ne dekhin nahin ... bhooton ka sansar, sacha wala pyar aur 72 Singh ki raftaar’; 72 Singh being Akshay’s character in the film.

An equally dramatic entry scene is devised for Asin as she takes one of her suitors on a spin around town in her car at a suicidal speed to scare him away.

Reshammiya’s family business is matchmaking. His father, Manoj Joshi has set a target of arranging 500 matches in his lifetime. However, Reshammiya plays the spoiler on most occasions as wittingly or unwittingly he gives away the lies Joshi uses to arrange matches, including manipulating horoscope charts. After one such blunder by Reshammiya, which breaks up a marriage which is already under way, Joshi has had enough and throws his son out. Reshammiya takes refuge with his friend, Sanjay Mishra, an undertaker and provider of Hindu last rites. Even as Reshammiya is venting his frustrations to his friend, Asin’s speeding car hits a pole near them. Both end up being presented in front of Mithun Chakraborty, the most feared don of Mumbai and elder brother of Asin.

Mithun wants to marry off his sister, Asin, but she knows that looking at her brother’s background, only another goon will marry her and keeps foiling her brother’s attempts to find a match for her. In fact, she already has a beau who is serving time in jail. Reshammiya’s family business comes to the fore and he along with Mishra accepts the challenge to find a match for Asin despite a threat from Mithun that if they fail the consequences would be dire. But Reshammiya needs to prove himself to his family and he also has in mind just the person who can rein in wild Asin. That is Akshay Kumar, whom Reshammiya has seen in action on an earlier occasion.

Reshammiya plays the matchmaker with the mantra borrowed from his father that like a pinch of salt in dough for chapattis, a little lie is okay in their business of matchmaking. He convinces Mithun to pose as a police officer since, to his knowledge Akshay’s family is full of policemen.

As both the families come together, the fun continues till Akshay discovers that Asin has a boyfriend, the jailbird, Rahul Singh who does something foolish every time he is released and is soon picked up again. In this event, there is not much scope for romance between Akshay and Asin except for some songs in dream sequences.

Khiladi 786 counts mainly on comedy and action. While for comedy the film has a screen full of characters, the onus of providing thrill rests mainly on Akshay’s shoulders. The film has funny sequences with dialogues to match. The songs are a plus point for the film with ‘Saari saari raat...’ being melodious, the others, ‘Balma…’ and ‘Hookah bar…’ being racy.

Akshay is in his element in action scenes and deadpan in comic scenes. Mithun Chakraborty, seasoned artiste that he is, convincingly carries out a don caricature. Asin as an aggressive shrew is good. Reshammiya shows a marked improvement in his acting. The villain, Rahul Singh, is not a perfect choice to match Akshya’s image and character. The supporting star cast of Raj Babbar, Mukesh Rishi, Manoj Joshi, Sanjay Mishra, Rajesh Khattar, Johny Lever, Bharti Singh and Mushtaq Khan is adequate.

Khiladi 786 opened well but the collections have varied through its first day. However, being fairly enjoyable fare, it should make up over the weekend.

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