August 31, 2011
Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Rajat Rawail, a teeny appearance by Vidya Sinha (yes Vidya of Chhoti si Baat and Rajnigandha fame)
Okay, so Salman Khan is cute. We get it!!! He was cute in Partner. He was cute in Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya. He was incredibly cute in Wanted and Dabangg. He was cute even in Ready with its unabashed reliance on his cuteness and fan following to carry it through. He is cute once again in Bodyguard, but even a cute megastar needs a real movie wrapped around him. And by that I mean an M-O-V-I-E, not a mere stringing together of scenes that are so dependent on the leading man’s ability to drive his followers crazy, that the team has not made much of an effort to tighten the editing, sharpen the dialogue writing or rev up the wit.
Here are a few things that work in favour of Bodyguard:
1. Salman is cute
2. Salman gives us generous displays of his well-sculpted torso
3. Kareena is pretty
4. Kareena’s wardrobe is pretty too
But points 1-4 apply to pretty much every movie that these two stars have worked in. So iske aage kuchh kijiye please.
Bodyguard is the Hindi remake of the hit 2010 Malayalam film of the same name starring Dileep and Nayantara. Its Tamil version Kaavalan with Vijay and Asin was released earlier this year to an enthusiastic response. Siddique has directed all three films. The story here remains the same as the original. Lovely Singh (Salman) is hired as the private security guard of Divya (Kareena), the daughter of a rich man. Irritated by Lovely’s over-zealous devotion to duty, Divya tries to distract him by calling him from her cellphone pretending to be an admirer. Since her number shows up as a “private number” on Lovely’s phone, he doesn’t realise that the girl claiming to be Chhaya at the other end of the line is in fact his Divya Madam. Gradually, Lovely starts developing feelings for the faceless Chhaya, and before she knows it, Divya too falls in love with him. But can their love withstand her father’s opposition? And when Lovely realises that Chhaya is Divya, will he agree to continue the relationship or bow to her family’s wishes?
That’s the kernel of the story. If you’ve seen the film’s southern Indian forebears, you’ll know how the rest plays out. The plus point of Bodyguard is that Salman gets more likeable with each film, though of course what he’s doing is not acting – it’s called Being Salman Khan. No complaints with that, so long as the star and the story are put together well enough to deliver an entertaining package. Sadly, though Bodyguard starts off well enough with generous doses of humour and Salmanness, it starts dragging post interval and fizzles out completely in the end.
Unlike the heroines of many of Salman’s recent films, in Bodyguard Kareena is not treated merely as a glamorous appendage to the hero’s antics. She has a substantial part to play in the film. But neither Salman’s charisma, nor Kareena’s acting and eye-catching kurtas can compensate for Bodyguard’s overall dullness. The music too is not particularly memorable, despite the sweet-but-that’s-about-it title track composed by Himesh Reshammiya and Pritam’s I love you which is well sung and melodic though generic. And Katrina Kaif’s minuscule appearance in one number doesn’t serve any purpose.
Salman’s directors in recent years have made every effort to build him up as a sort of Rajinikanth of the North. Well, the Rajini package is what it is because of wacky dialogue writing and brilliantly executed, imaginatively conceived action sequences. Bodyguard doesn’t offer us much beyond a character telling Lovely Singh, “Tum bodyguard nahin, Itchguard ho” with no contextual relevance whatsoever. And Lovely’s mantra in the film, “Mujhpar ek ehsaan karna ki mujh par kabhi ehsaan na karna”, is hardly hard-hitting or clever enough to merit the repeat play it gets in the film. The stunts in Bodyguard are not particularly novel either. In fact, the film’s action choreographer even borrows from Dabangg’s climax in which the wind ripped the shirt off the tall, strapping villain (Sonu Sood) and then tore the shirt off Chulbul Pandey (Salman) to drive home the point that the comparatively gigantic bad guy was no match for our heroic little package of dynamite. Witness the final fight in Bodyguard with a similar sequence of events but half the impact. What Salman needs are more ingenious fight directors and writers who could give him more Salman-esque lines such as Wanted’s “Ek baar jo maine commitment ki, toh main khud ki bhi nahin sunta”. Without any of these ingredients, Bodyguard ends up as a sort-of-entertaining film with an enjoyable-even-if-mindless first half, good-looking lead players and several clichés; a film that appears to take committed fans terribly for granted.
My favourite moment in Bodyguard is when a member of Divya’s household (Rajat Rawail in an interesting debut) reads “private number” as “Parvati Nambiar”. Now why couldn’t we have had more of that in the film?
Rating (out of five): **
CBFC Rating: U/A without cuts
Running time: 131 Minutes
PS: Does the “masala” tag give writers and directors the right to be irresponsible and insensitive? So okay, some jokes about disabilities (however offensive) have to be accepted in the interests of realism, because they reflect the street language of our country. But while the world debates the correctness and acceptability of terms such as midget / dwarf / vertically challenged person / person of slight stature / little people, here in India, in a scene in Bodyguard Lovely Singh blithely refers to Divya’s small-sized classmate as a “handbag” to be contrasted with a “suitcase”! Oh wait, I’m not allowed to have such objections to a “masala” film, right Bollywood?!
Photograph courtesy: http://www.bodyguardthefilm.com/