January 25, 2013
Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Jacqueline Fernandez, Ameesha Patel, Special appearance by Bipasha Basu
Watching Race 2 is somewhat like the experience of watching Dabangg 2. You know someone has found a winning formula, regurgitated every single element from the first instalment, put little thought into the sequel and served up a similar product. So yeah, there’s a bit of mindless fun to be had with Race 2, but for the most part it is such an unimaginative replication of Race 1 that it’s hard not to feel taken for granted as a viewer.
The story, if you can call it that, marks the return of Ranveer Singh (Saif Ali Khan) to the scene, this time determined to take revenge – for reasons I shall not give away – on new-entrant-in-the-series Armaan Malik, a millionaire casino owner played by John Abraham. Anil Kapoor is back as the fruit-obsessed Robert D’Costa aka RD, an ex-cop whose seemingly goofy demeanour masks a sharp, crooked mind. Since hot women in skimpy clothing are mandatory in the Race formula, this time we get Deepika Padukone playing Armaan’s half-sister Alena while Jacqueline Fernandez is his girlfriend Omisha. Katrina Kaif's character died in the original film, but here Sameera Reddy and Bipasha Basu too are done away with for flimsy reasons. Bipasha does make a fleeting appearance as Ranveer’s lover from Race 1, perhaps to prove to those of us who care about such things that Abbas Mustan are not complete MCPs who treat women as dispensable commodities in their stories while male stars are considered irreplaceable.
Actually, never mind the story … there’s not much of it. All you need to know is that as in the case of Race, in Race 2 too you never know who is double-crossing, triple-crossing or quadruple-crossing an associate. But there was a freshness to Race that made it effective, a certain intelligence with which the twists were engineered. Race 2’s unpredictability gets predictable after a point. It doesn’t help that the thriller elements are embarrassingly half-baked and contrived. This leads to some unintentionally comic situations, epitomised by a scene in which a bomb is placed in a briefcase at the entrance to the Italian church that houses the world-renowned Shroud of Turin. The guard at the gate spots the bomb, runs to the phone and … did you think he’d call the police?!! No no no, he phones a nun inside the building and informs her of the bomb! It occurs to the bright chap to call the police only when the sweet nun instructs him on the phone: Call the bomb squad!
It gets worse! Secret codes are cracked in the most childish fashion. Hardened criminals don’t bother for hours on end to check bags of cash delivered to them. Perfect timing is achieved not through precise planning but because the screenplay writer chose to make matters convenient for the hero. And frankly, the leading man achieves his goal because the biggest crook in the film is a darned stupid, gullible ass who forgets the weapons in his own armory that he has described in detail to the enemy.
Race 2 also continually crosses the line between cool and trying-too-hard-to-be-cool. Imagine the tackiness of the writing in a film where Omisha says to Ranveer: “Men are many but money is money.” Hehe … that’s as kindergarten-ish as RD’s voiceover describing her as “the big O (pause for effect) Omisha” right after he describes Armaan’s only weakness other than money as “the big F (pause for effect) Females”. And you can imagine the puerile jokes that are spun off the fact that RD’s new ditsy assistant goes by the name Cherry. Uff!
Everyone looks great here … as they did in Race. Everyone wears great clothes … as they did in Race. Everyone is lying to someone … as they did in Race. Like the writer and directors, the music directors too seem not to have a new idea in their bag of tricks. So, like Munni badnaam hui in Dabangg 2, the fabulous Allah duhai hai is resurrected in Race 2. The rest of the music, though hummable, fails to match up to Race’s excellent soundtrack. Even the insertion of the songs into the narrative is abrupt, almost becoming laughable when a couple in the film start making love and precisely at that point, voices in the background blare out the song Be intehaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!
For a film that clearly prides itself on its new-age slickness and style, its ironical that the most fun in Race 2 comes from good old chases on foot and raw hand-to-hand combat: Ranveer pursuing a killer through the streets ... Armaan drawing blood in the fighting ring ... dishum dishum between Armaan and Ranveer on a plane, which is the point at which the film should have ended, but did not ... just as this story should have ended with Race 1, but did not.
Rating (out of five): **1/4
CBFC Rating (India):
Photograph courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_2