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Review: Baazigar fuel fails to revive Abbas-Mustan’s obsolete Machine

Release Date: 17 Mar 2017 / Rated: U/A / 02hr 28min

Cinestaan Rating

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Mayur Lookhar

The director duo make a mockery of their own legend, and Mustafa Burmawalla’s defunct show turns this horrendous suspense drama into a joke.

If love is blind, then so is success. For one is so blinded by success that one falls into the trap of rehashing an old formula in the hope that history will repeat itself. Unfortunately, this blind redux only leads to disaster.

With their best days behind them, director duo Abbas-Mustan, notorious for being 'inspired' by Hollywood flicks, take inspiration this time from their own blockbuster Baazigar (1993) to manufacture Machine — a film that marks the debut of Abbas’s son Mustafa. Baazigar turned Shah Rukh Khan into a star. So, Abbas-Mustan tried recreating the magic of Baazigar with Machine. The problem is that such subjects are passé and poor Mustafa is just not up to the task.

Ransh (Mustafa) meets Sarah Thapar (Kiara Advani) on a hilly road in Himachal Pradesh. He offers her a lift and she accepts but only if she gets to drive. Astonishingly, Ransh’s first words to Sarah are not ‘hey girl, can I help you?’ Instead, he blurts out a misogynistic line: “You are a rich girl, who fell in love in two minutes, now you’ve fought with your boyfriend and you want to commit suicide by being mowed down by a passer-by’s vehicle." Oh boy, you know you are in for a terrible ride. Soon they are competing in a cart race vying for the Burnout championship. What an apt championship for a burnt out plot.

Ransh wins the race in dramatic style, and soon he has joined Sarah at her college and is mingling with her pals — Aditya (Eshan Shankar) and Vicky (Mayuresh Wadkar). These two gentlemen, too, have feelings for Sarah. Not only does a jilted Vicky mow down Aditya, but he also loses his life in the same accident. Thus the path is clear for Ransh to have his Romeo-Juliet moments with Sarah. Soon they are married, honeymooning in an isolated plush villa, but then comes the tragic twist in the tale. A similar tragedy had turned Baazigar on its head.

From here on you expect Machine to go the Baazigar route, but what follows is one shocking revelation after another. Truth be told, it’s one embarrassing plot point after another. Well, one such shocking truth is revealed by squeezing the family jewels of Thapar's lawyer Mr Kapoor (Sharat Saxena).

Evidently, Ransh is a character largely modelled on Ajay Sharma/Vicky Malhotra (Shah Rukh Khan) from Baazigar. Abbas-Mustan could be pardoned for trying to manufacture a Shah Rukh Khan out of Mustafa, but there is no way the duo can get away by making a mockery of their own iconic film. Khan paid the price for mocking Raj, his iconic character from Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), in, first, Chennai Express (2013) and, later, Dilwale (2015), both directed by Rohit Shetty. Sadly, Abbas-Mustan have now ruined the legendary Baazigar with Machine.

A shambolic script and screenplay could still have been given some respectability by a good actor. The prime problem with Machine is Mustafa. The young man is a complete non-actor, a novice who clearly misjudged his own imaginary ability. Watching Mustafa on screen is nothing short of an embarrassment. From body language to dialogue delivery, he is poor in every sense. And if you can’t pronounce a word (serenity), then why use it? The abysmal melodrama only exposes him further. Mustafa had said in an interview earlier that he polished his skills at the prestigious National School of Drama. However, watching him, you wonder whether the standards at the NSD have fallen so low.

Fortunately for Mustafa, he is not alone here. Mediocrity is displayed by every actor in the film. Kiara Advani, who showed promise in MS Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016), is a shadow of herself. The Ransh and Sarah romantic saga is too melodramatic, leading to plenty of guffaw moments. Shortly after saying I love you, our Romeo tells his Juliet, "Main tumhare honthon ki lipstick kharab karunga par tumhari aankhon ka kajal nahin. [I will wipe the lipstick off your lips but not the kohl in your eyes]." We had already heard the ‘main break pe pair nahi rakhta, kyunki mujhe maut se darr nahi lagta' punchline in the trailer. Such dialogues would have even a corpse laughing out of its grave.

It is shocking to see a fine actor like Ronit Roy, who plays Balraj, be a part of such an archaic subject. It is precisely such subjects that ruined his early years in Hindi cinema. Decades later he has found his mojo playing grey characters in films like Udaan (2010), Ugly (2013), and Kaabil (2017). Machine, though, is an obstacle in his path to redemption.

Then we have Dalip Tahil trying to portray himself as a poor man’s Bernie Ecclestone (the former CEO of Formula One). We loved him more as Madan Chopra in Baazigar than in this Kriss Alter avatar in Machine. The less said about supporting actors Eshan Shankar and Mayuresh Wadkar, the better. The duo easily take the cake for worst performers in the film.

Seasoned comedian Johnny Lever is perhaps the lone saving grace of Machine. He provided the humour quotient as Babulal in Baazigar, and 24 years later, he has graduated to becoming Darpan Lal, a desi cop in Georgia. His goofy interrogation of Ransh is genuinely funny. You will definitely wish to see more of him.

The trouble for Machine, though, is that Gopal Darpan comes too little, too late into the picture. The damage has long been done by then. 

The blame for this defunct Machine lies with the Burmawallas. Be it story or casting, Abbas and Mustan have got it all completely wrong.

A song (Brake'an Fail) after the interval has a white woman crooning: ‘this is a kind of love story — either you stay out of it or you go in all the way.’ Well, the wise would do better to stay away from this defunct, obsolete Machine.

Reviewed by Mayur Lookhar