Thursday, October 3, 2013


Release date:
October 3, 2013
Abhinav Singh Kashyap


Ranbir Kapoor, Pallavi Sharda, Neetu Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Amitosh Nagpal, Jaaved Jaaferi

Besharam reminded me of the experience of watching Salaam-e-Ishq. Was this unfortunately elongated multi-starrer really the work of the man who’d made the delightful Kal Ho Na Ho, I wondered? The contrast between KHNH and director Nikhil Advani’s other films is a lesson for this industry which fails to acknowledge that the best films are ones in which a team clicks.

Besharam’s director Abhinav Singh Kashyap earlier made Dabangg, which catapulted Salman Khan from being the darling of his own massive following to a star even non-Salmaniacs fell for. Dabangg was produced by the hero’s brother Arbaaz who went on to direct Dabangg 2 after a bitter parting of ways with Abhinav. Salman was on fire in Dabangg. In Dabangg 2 he was repeating himself. So what was missing? Abhinav? Now Abhinav’s directorial venture Besharam brings together for the first time the superstar-of-the-moment Ranbir Kapoor with his actor parents Neetu and Rishi. We’ve seen the Kapoors shine individually in other films; we’ve seen Abhinav shine with Dabangg. So what’s missing here? Salman and Arbaaz?

Point is, film making is teamwork and clearly the right team has not fallen into place for Besharam. The film starts off in an enjoyable fashion. Babli, played by Ranbir, is a smooth-as-butter car thief who works with his friend Titu (Amitosh Nagpal). The two are fun together and Ranbir looks spiffing. Then Babli falls for Tara Sharma (Pallavi Sharda) and everything goes downhill. Pallavi is an attractive woman with a spark that may one day be better used. Here, however, two issues emerge with her entry: (1) there’s zero electricity between her and Ranbir (2) the minute her character is introduced, Besharam metamorphoses into one of those pre-2000s Hindi films in which the hero repeatedly misbehaved with the heroine, the script implied that female disinterest is usually a sham, and her acquiescence to his aggressive overtures was deemed inevitable since stalking was projected as proof of true love that the woman was bound to recognise and reciprocate some day. As in so many old films (remember Dil?), the girl in Besharam is shown to do mean things so that the audience may dislike her while sympathising with the male aggressor. An early dialogue is designed to damn her in the eyes of the film’s male viewers when she makes it clear she will only fall for a man of a higher station. Truth is, Besharam is a sophisticated Raanjhanaa. Ranbir’s good looks induce in us a reluctance to dislike Babli’s antics. And I say “sophisticated” because unlike Kundan from Raanjhanaa who slashes his wrists, roughs up women and drives his scooter into the Ganga with Zoya riding pillion, Babli is not physically violent. Instead he is offensively pushy, and convinced that if he wants Tara then his interest in her must over-ride her objections to his persistent pursuit of her.

In fact, the men in this film are at no point held responsible for their sins. Babli justifies his choice of profession by pointing out that as an orphan he had no other option. The attitude is glaring though in the marriage of Inspector Chulbul Chautala (Rishi) and Head Constable Bulbul Chautala (Neetu), on whose watch Babli commits some of his thefts. Bulbul constantly insults her husband for their childlessness, questions his mardaangi, and goads him to take bribes so he can better their lives and make up for his failure to make her a mother. Of course we can’t help but consider her a bitch; of course we can’t help but pity bechara Chulbul who is forced into corruption by that horrible wife. It’s a gender equation that’s been reiterated to us ever since we first heard the story of how Eve tempted Adam to bite the forbidden apple, thus destroying the idyll the world had been till then. When Chulbul vanquishes the villains and earns his wife’s admiration in the climactic scene, the hilarity can’t mask the stink of traditional notions of masculinity being reinforced. It’s a measure of the senior Kapoors’ incredible charm that much of this regressive talk ends up sounding humorous. This though is what makes Besharam dangerous – it strives to lull us into an acceptance of its medievalism.

Besharam, then, is a mixed bag of goods. It is very funny at the start but after a while the laughs come only in spurts. It is disturbing, backward, charmless and cliched whenever Babli and Tara are together. Sure it’s comical-despite-being-retrograde in scenes featuring the sparkling seniors but the two of them disappear for large swathes of the film. In fact, Babli, Chulbul and Bulbul don’t share much screen space, which makes you wonder why the casting of the three Kapoors was made the film’s marketing USP. The villain of Besharam is a poorly developed character called Bhim Singh Chandel (Jaaved Jaaferi), a hawala operator with whom Babli has dealings. Babli’s friend Titu is relegated to the sidelines after some interesting early scenes. There’s also a half-baked addendum in the form of an orphanage to which Babli donates all his ill-gotten earnings – once again, you see, this rapscallion can hardly be blamed for his actions since he’s so saintly as to donate bad money to a good cause. Worst of all, there are too many songs in the film, and even Ranbir’s amazing agility can’t redeem the mediocre music. In the end though, when he dances with Rishi and Neetu to a number (a tuneless one) intended as a tribute to Mom and Dad, it’s impossible not to smile at the reminder of their signature dance moves from their youth, it’s hard not to notice Rishi’s endearing personality or Neetu’s enviable hotness at 55. Sadly, by then it’s too late for Besharam.  

Rating (out of five): **

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
2 hours 18 minutes (courtesy


  1. i would say its watchable for once just like some other bollywood movies. be ve to watch movies as other comments would break you down! if you're ranbir fan .then go for it1

  2. I feel like the time of my childhood when no matter how the movie is, or going to be but we had to line up in advance bookings for Amitabh Bachchan's movies whether it was Alap, Manzil, Nastik or Besharam. So the verdict is that we must be Besharam again and watch it @theatrenearyou