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‘Gabbar Is Back’… Big deal!

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MUMBAI: Gabbar Is Back is not old wine in new bottle. It is South Indian hooch bottled with a Hindi label. Contents remain the same. It is about a man on mission and in Indian films a hero is on mission when injustice has been done to his sister, mother or wife. Well, in rare cases brother or father too but that does not make the cause very effective.

The film is based on 2002 Tamil film, Ramanna, later remade as Tagore in Telugu in 2003, Vishnu Sena in Kannada in 2005. The trouble with picking such old South films for remakes is that a lot of similar films with familiar scenes and sequences have filled the space in-between.

Akshay Kumar runs what, one may call, his own concept of NGO. It is unlike any other NGO working to serve people. He is either a physics teacher or a physical trainer in a college. He is seen teaching his students mainly hand to hand combat so must be physical fitness and self-defence though the film describes it as physics. Akshay has been wronged. His pregnant wife, Kareena Kapoor, has been killed due to inferior quality building built by a powerful builder, Suman Talwar. The building, along with all surrounding buildings, cave in one go. However, the builder, has all the bureaucrats and politicians in his pocket because of the money power and the bribes he pays.

Akshay lands up with all the evidence about corruption which led to inferior material and construction as well as reclaimed land unfit for construction where the buildings were built. The bureaucrats refuse to listen to him, the politician chides him and offers him the compensation of 50 lakh while the state had paid Rs 25 lakh. He is generous enough to pay for unborn child also. Talwar tries to kill Akshay with two hits on his neck and chest but film heroes don’t die so easily. Unwittingly, Talwar has set off a time bomb in angry Akshay. Meanwhile, Akshay is not all stone, he has found his lady love in Shruti Haasan and reciprocates her love.

Akshay ropes in a number of volunteers from his college students; his college has a great reputation of turning out 100 per cent honest people. Akshay’s ‘NGO’ is tasked with finding corrupt government officials, kidnapping them and lynching one of them to set an example for the rest. The most corrupt is the one lynched since Akshay’s ‘NGO’ rates them all. Akshay, an aam aadmi assumes the pseudonym of Gabbar. The Akshay effect works, bureaucrats are scared of accepting bribes though they are not scared of disclosing their ill-gotten wealth for the sake of audience for Akshay to strike on them because people have already been informed about who is corrupt to what extent.

After two such lynching, Akshay happens to be in a hospital where the doctors are busy devising new ways to loot people forgetting their Hippocratic Oath. He plants a dead body from a neighbouring government hospital with a plea to doctors to save him. The doctors put on a drama of efforts to save the already dead man. A sting is in order so that Akshay could bargain for a compensation for the dead man’s widow and her two daughters. The hospital belongs to the same man, Talwar. The cleansing of the bureaucracy film turns into a revenge story. The second half is devoted almost entirely to Akshay and Talwar wanting to get the better of other.

As mentioned earlier, the subject of corruption, builder political nexus and such does not generate much interest anymore. It has been done to death in real-life media as well as films, especially in metros and satellite towns. Inferior construction, corruption and powerful builder lobby may have been happening even earlier, but B R Chopra’s Aadmi Aur Insaan, dealt with the subject as early as 1969, albeit with a lot of emotional angles packed in and still remained average.

If the South versions were hit to inspire remakes, they must have been better scripted and directed.

Akshay Kumar plays himself rather than Gabbar which he does film after film notwithstanding the fact that the film rests entirely on him since the film has a very economical supporting cast and the lead actress. This is a fact which has always limited Akshay’s box office draw to less than a 100 crore in most cases. Shruti is not a performer. Talwar tries his best but is not strong enough a villain for the cause for your hero is only as big as your villain is. Sunil Grover has a good role to play and he does well. The others, mainly cast as Mumbai police big wigs, are mere caricatures. Kareena Kapoor’s cameo is okay while the over made-up Chitrangda Singh in an item song actually looks bad.

The direction is very tacky, script does not deem it necessary to explain assumptions by its characters. Photography is passable. Action is South films replay all along. Gabbar Is Back is mainly a single screen fare. Despite four days weekend (Friday being May Day holiday in some of the states) the film has a limited range.

Producers: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Sabeena Khan.

Director: KIrsh.

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Shruti Haasan, Jaideep Ahlawat, Suman Talwar, and in cameo Kareena Kapoor and Chitrangda Singh.

‘Sabki Bajegi Band’….Gupt Gyan better kept gupt!

Sabki Bajegi Band slots itself in a new slot, it is a reality film. While trying to be a new genre, it also pokes fun at the formula of run of the mill Hindi potboilers. Keeping its potential in mind, the film is a one location, new faces attempt to keep the cost in control. That said, however, keeping the script and content in control fails most filmmakers.

The film is mostly about a group of friends gathered sharing their personal life and experiences and secrets, mostly sex related. Obviously, the film seems to have been cleared before its new Chairman, Pahlaj Nihalani, took over as the film has profanities galore as well as intimate sex talk.

There is this guy who aspires to make a film and as a run-up to that he decides to shoot the celeb friends of his gathered at a secluded venue. Everybody is invited to share their experiences, sex lives, sexual preferences and other truths. All these he shoots with a 3 pixel Handycam! He is the male protagonist who sort of sets the terms of the tone for the evening.

There is a counterpart to this man, a woman who thinks she is an expert at deciphering the sexual traits or preferences of the men gathered. Her take is that if a man carries a floral patterned handkerchief or looks at his soiled shoes from backwards, he is gay. She also claims to have slept for a one lakh rupee assignment for an ad which turned her into a top model and thinks nothing of such compromises. In fact, she advocates them.

As the 3 pixel camera rolls on, each member is made to reveal his/ her sexual life and none comes out clean. While the filming goes on, pairs are made and broken; romances break up and new romance replaces it.

Pretending to be a contemporary youth film, the film reveals closet gay, bisexuals, virgins, open multiple partner relations, erectile dysfunctional and to cap it up also an HIV+ seeking love.

The film has lot of similarity to the 2014 film, Me And Mr Right where friends end up revealing personal lives. As in that film, here too, the script is poor though the idea had the potential to be developed into something interesting. Direction is amateurish. Songs have no place and, thankfully, finds only symbolic footage. Rest of the aspects and performances are not worth mentioning.

Sabki Bajegi Band is poor on all counts with zero prospects at the box office.

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