Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Jimmy Shergill, Sonakshi Sinha, Gun-toting Junior Artistes
Director: Tigmanshu Dhulia
Rating: Two stars
No job? Then, just join a crime mob. That’s what a 40-something does, on being denied employment at a hotel. “Do you have a hotel management degree?” the jobless one was asked. Fair question. But he’s as mad as hell, runs helter-skelter, only to land up at a wedding, where an item number informs the guests, “Don’t touch my body...or else I will burn your mattress and pillows.” Oho, forewarned is forearmed.
Strange. Absolutely irrational events are orchestrated by writer-director Tigmanshu Dhulia, who’s excellent when he’s good ('Paan Singh Tomaar') and unbearable when he’s bad ('Charas', 'Shagird'). Now 'Bullett Raja' belongs to the so-bad-that-it’s-sad category. A valentine to senseless violence, this one hip-hops through Lucknow, Mumbai, Nashik, Kolkata and more, with no avowed purpose except perhaps to woo the audiences in those specific cities. Oh well.
In fact, the Bharat Darshan is neither expertly photographed nor pertinent to the plot of which there is precious little. Forget plausibilty. Here every element is calculated to make you an ouch potato, grimacing and groaning while the soundtrack explodes with guns, grenades, grunts and even footwear. Don’t know what the sound designer was thinking, but every footstep – be it on grass or carpeted flooring – goes crunch-crunch-and-mega-CRUNCH, as if some mannerless monster was chomping popcorn.
However, the ear-ache is the least of the problems with this sarson da saga of that 40-something unemployed ‘youth’. The gent’s Raja saheb (Saif Ali Khan). And his bio-data reads 155 conquests of women, thus far, besides a flair for establishing instant friendships, spontaneous vendetta plans, gingerly disco shakes and above all, the talent for dodging the bulletgiri of a thousand adversaries who just can’t shoot straight. Only the hero possesses that privilege. Natch.
Quite helpfully, Dhulia makes it clear that all good or bad things come in twos. “Remember Sholay?” someone asks. “Thakur had to hire both Veeru and Jai to do the needful.” Result: till the intermission point, our Raja saheb is accompanied by an earnest sort (Jimmy Shergill) to go on a killing rampage. Countless junior artistes die. But er..so does Buddy Earnest. Raja’s solo now. Or is he?
Post-intermission, out pops a Fearless Cop (Vidyut Jamwal), introduced in an encounter with the Bandit Kings of the Chambal Valley, or some such. Those beastly bandidos are exterminated before you can say Phoolan Devta. Wow, life’s a lark for that cop as he somersaults, flies and bheja-fries.
Next: Raja and Anti-Bandit Cop come to loggerheads, literally, thanks to a pack of demonic politicians (Raj Babbar and Co). More cliches rain – including the heroine quotient (Sonakshi Sinha), from a quirky Kolkata family. She wants to be a Bollywood star, it seems, and so dresses up in falooda colours. Yikes. Indeed, the laugh-out-aloud moment comes when the camera pans to her brother (Mortified Face), who’s described as a leftist. The poor bro has nothing to say. A comment on the state of leftism today?
The politics – or which party is fighting which – remains a Hitchcockian mystery. Instead, you’re told that the state of the nation can even be controlled by a cooler-than-a-kulfi jailbird, who can break or make elections by issuing instructions from his webcam. Very laptop savvy, he.
Neither can you figure out what a wrestling champ (Ravi Kishen) contributes to the screenplay, except for wearing a petticoat-blouse and lipstick. Honestly, the award for the kinkiest visual of the year goes out to the cross-dressed Kishen in bed with a woman in his arms! This bit of perversion boggles.
Most of the footage come off as quick montages, rather than individual dramatic sequences. Motivation and credibility are conspicuous by their absence. Ditto, technical expertise. Sajid-Wajid’s music is nothing to hum about. And for quotable quotes from the dialogue, check out, “Revenge is our tradition. It is certainly not corporate culture which can be adjusted in the next deal.” Point noted, boss!
Of the acting crew, only Jimmy Shergill embeds his role with conviction and credibility. Sonakshi Sinha keeps smiling as if she were endorsing a toothpaste. And Saif Ali Khan is miscast as a macho smalltown gangster, despite his unbuttoned shirts and don’t-mess-with-me facial expression. In a couple of scenes, he strives to give himself a desi accent but – mercy be -- abandons it quickly. Like it or not, he’s a limited actor, best suited for suave, urbane roles.
Similarly, Tigmanshu Dhulia is best when he opts for content drawn for reality instead of flying off into an absurd land where everyone detests one another with a vengeance. Thodasa control kijiye, brother! Make cinema, not bullets.