Mumbai, 18 Mar 2022 19:16 IST
The film's protagonist is a problematic character, one that the viewer will find hard to empathize with.
When you think of comic entertainers revolving around a gangster, the first film that comes to mind in the modern era is Rajkumar Hirani’s Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (2003).
Although the central character in the film was a gangster, he was never shown committing serious offences. His wrongdoings were limited to extortion, threats, strong-arm tactics and abduction, that too in a non-serious manner. Therefore, it was not difficult to forgive such a person.
That is not the case in Farhad Samji’s Bachchhan Paandey, which, naturally, does not create as much of an impact as it aspires to, though it does make you laugh on numerous occasions. The gangster here, Bachchhan Paandey (Akshay Kumar), is a brutal killer who has no qualms about setting human beings, including an honest journalist, on fire.
It is difficult to empathize with such a protagonist. Also, the nature of the lead character means the film has to show him committing brutal beatings and killings, which is not something you enjoy watching in what is supposed to be a feel-good entertainer.
The story of Bachchhan Paandey is ‘inspired’ from the Tamil movie Jigarthanda (2014) and is about the desperate need of an aspiring filmmaker from Mumbai, Myra Devekar (Kriti Sanon), to make a successful debut film. After all her ideas get rejected by her producer, she comes across the life story of a ruthless gangster from Baghwa called Bachchhan Paandey, living in the ‘interiors’ of India (though all vehicle numberplates in the film suggest the state in question is ‘UP’, Uttar Pradesh).
Myra’s friend and struggling actor Vishu (Arshad Warsi) is dead set against the idea of making a film on Paandey and visiting Baghwa to document his life. But he agrees once she promises him the second lead role. When Myra and Vishu reach Baghwa, they are petrified by the terror spread by Paandey. Whether they are able to persuade the thug to cooperate in filming his life story is what the rest of the movie is all about.
Though he plays a problematic character, Akshay Kumar not only fits the role to the T, but is also entertaining. He is the major reason for the film being a decent entertainer. Kriti Sanon delivers a commendable act yet again.
Arshad Warsi is funny as usual, but he doesn’t get much scope in this film. Pankaj Tripathi gets to play a different role in which he excels, creating a terrific impact despite arriving late. Jacqueline Fernandez struggles as usual. Thankfully, she only has a cameo.
Bachchhan Paandey doesn’t have a streamlined story. For most of the first half, there isn’t much story development at all. But the fast-paced screenplay ensures that you don’t feel the need to look at your watch. The best moments come when Paandey shoots for the film based on his life story.
Bachchhan Paandey surprises you with a twist you don't see coming in the pre-climax, especially if you haven’t seen Jigarthanda (which this reviewer hadn’t). However, the twist is difficult to digest and leads to an unacceptable climax owing to the problematic nature of the protagonist.
Bachchhan Paandey is technically sound when it comes to the colour grading in scenes shot in the vast landscapes of Rajasthan, as also in the camerawork and editing. This is something you don’t expect from a film of this nature.
In a nutshell, Bachchhan Paandey is an uneven saga that is watchable only for Akshay Kumar.
Bachchhan Paandey was released in cinemas on 18 March 2022.
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