Saturday, July 7, 2012


Release date:
July 6, 2012
Rohit Shetty
Abhishek Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Archana Puran Singh, Asrani, Asin, Prachi Desai, Guest appearance by Amitabh Bachchan

Rohit Shetty does not know this but Bol Bachchan is actually a suspense thriller. So utterly over-the-top and exaggerated are Ajay Devgn’s lines in the film, that after a while I derived much of my enjoyment just trying to predict what his Prithviraj Raghuvanshi would say next. It’s all quite crazily ridiculous, but then that’s not such a bad thing in a world where we’ve got so much to be serious about. Prithviraj is a village pehelwan-type who is so in love with English that he massacres it every time he speaks. You’ve heard that his “chest has become a blouse” from the film’s promos. Do you also know that’s his way of saying someone has done him proud? When a young man interrupts a conversation between two older persons, Pratap chides him with, “When elder get cosy, younger don’t put nosy.” He also at one point doles out this wisdom: “Hard work is the keyhole to the saxophone.” There are dozens and dozens more where that came from!  

Yes yes, if you stop to think, it’s all quite silly, but the film’s leading men seem to be having such a good time that it’s hard not to be drawn into the madness. It starts off rather dull though – that’s when the writers get characters who know each other well to discuss their back stories with each other in a way real people never would. Perhaps they couldn’t think of a better device to give us a backgrounder. The story is about Abbas Ali (Abhishek Bachchan) and Sania (Asin), siblings from Delhi whose financial struggles prompt them to move to their uncle’s village of Ranakpur, Rajasthan. The uncle introduces them to his boss Pratap (Ajay Devgn) who offers Abbas a job … except that he does not know his employee’s real name because circumstances led to a lie as a result of which Abbas was introduced to Pratap by the name Abhishek Bachchan.

I’m not telling you more of the story, but since you already know that Bol Bachchan is a remake of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Amol Palekar-Utpal Dutt-starrer Golmaal, you may as well know this too: that while Utpal Dutt’s character hated men without moustaches, Ajay’s Pratap  in Bol Bachchan hates lies and liars; the Bindiya Goswami equivalent in this film is played by Prachi Desai who is Pratap’s sister; and a mujrewaali played by Archana Puran Singh steps into the role of Dina Pathak’s character from the old film. Bol Bachchan’s music by Himesh Reshammiya and Ajay-Atul is an absolute downer, which gave me an ache in the heart because Aane waala kal sung by Kishore Kumar for Amol Palekar in the old film is one of my all-time favourites! Know this too … that Hrishida provides only the skeleton for this film which is far far far removed from the understated mania of the original. Bol Bachchan is, in contrast, a comedy of errors completely in the Rohit Shetty mould with hard-core action scenes featuring fisticuffs and big cars against a background score that’s often too loud for its own good. But the overall effect, it has to be said, is quite a bit of fun.

It’s not often that Abhishek Bachchan relaxes and completely lets his hair down before the camera. Here though, Shetty has managed to get him to do both to good effect. When the actor performs “Kathak” it looks unforgivably like a blend of bhangra, garba and nothingness, but who cares, right?! Also, Bachchan jr’s transformation from Abbas to Abhishek to the third supposedly homosexual character he plays in the film is interesting because although his interpretation of “gay” subscribes to the stereotype, he stops short of being offensively caricaturish the way so many Hindi film portrayals of homosexual men have been.

Prachi is effective in a small role, and her designer for the film really needs to tell me where they went shopping for all those lovely outfits. Asin, on the other hand, is so marginal to the proceedings that she needs to do a serious rethink about the choices she’s making in Bollywood after having made such an indelible mark in southern Indian cinema. Asrani is endearing as ever.

However, the scene stealers in Bol Bachchan are Ajay Devgn and Archana Puran Singh. The latter is an absolute hoot as a woman struggling to play a sedate mother while being an incorrigible seductress in reality ... though it’s a sign of the industry’s inescapable sexist ageism that heroes in their 40s act as the lovers of heroines in their 20s without batting an eyelid, but 49-year-old Archana is considered “too old” to play 36-year-old Abhishek Bachchan’s sister, but the right age to play his mother! Ah well … if she doesn’t mind, why am I protesting on her behalf?!

It’s lovely to see Ajay’s evolution in comedy from the days when he deadpanned his way through David Dhawan’s Hum Kisise Kum Nahin to the rollicking time he’s having in Bol Bachchan. His acting, his characterisation by the writing team, and the absolute and deliberate defiance of logic in the writing and delivery of his dialogues are what make Bol Bachchan worth a watch.

For the most part, the director and the actors keep the pace just right … There are scenes that intermittently fall flat though, the most important of those being the one in which Abhishek and Ajay try to do a flashback to Amol and Utpal in the original Golmaal … nope, I’m afraid these gentlemen are not good mimics. What they are though, is having a blast. And surprise surprise, the film also has a neatly woven in message of secularism that comes in the form of the very backbone of the story – Abbas/Abhishek’s lie. Although it is stated loud and clear it does not for a second sound like lecturebaazi. Arrey waah, Rohit Shetty…aap se yeh ummeed nahin thi!

Rating (out of five): **3/4

Language:                              Hindi

Censor rating:                       U/A

Photograph courtesy:


  1. Hello ma'm,its me again :) Its quite disappointing that Rohit Shetty and his team have brought down Hrishikesh Mukherjee's slice-of-life, ever-so entertaining comic gem to a level of slapstick and mindless comedy. And I completely agree with you stating in your review about AB jr's stereotypical portrayal of a gay person. I think the biggest problem of Bollywood since it's advent has been the pre-conceived stereotypes it seems to have about the society in general. Is it really that necessary for a gay person to have a feminine way of walking and talking? I don't think even the women that an average person sees in the day-to-day life do the kind of 'nakhra' that a gay character is shown to do in bolly films. As far as topics like homosexuality,physical disabilities,sex,rape,etc are concerned,I think most Bollywood film-makers are still in an infant stage to handle them. Very few project them with dignity and to the best of their honesty. In a country where film stars are virtually worshiped,its really not acceptable on the film-maker's part to show anything in the name of so-called entertainment.Finally,as the main backbone of this comment of mine is the insensitive & stereotypical portrayal of Homosexuality in most Bolly films, I want to say that the portrayal of a homosexual by the legendary Tom Hanks in the film 'Philadelphia' and Heath Ledger in 'Brokeback Mountain' are arguably the best in all of cinematic history according to me...

  2. Anna, thanks for this intelligent and well-thought review. I have been drowning in the hype on Twitter and Facebook! Plus I have been utterly unable to understand the many promos in Hindi. I did have a concern about Abhishek's character pretending to be gay, because, as you said, this kind of thing often turns into an ugly caricature (in American movies as well). I'm glad you addressed this, and it's good to hear that Abhishek performed well in all ways. Although there are many acting families in India, I can't think of anyone with larger shoes to fill than Abhi. Looks like maybe he's getting there. I hope to see the movie within the month, and I'll let you know what I think.

    All my best, Jenn

  3. Nice blog. I am panning to watch this movie tomorrow. :)