There are four outrageously funny sequences in Bol Bachchan, all of them having their genesis in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s delectable Golmaal. Archana Puran Singh takes over from Dina Pathak, and before you express outrage, you must brace for the fact that she plays a naachne-gaanewali as opposed to Pathak’s struggling actor. Dressed in vidhwa costume, a grey wig to go with it, she greets Prithvi Raj Raghuvanshi (Devgn, Shetty’s Utpal Dutt) with an aadab before adjusting her spectacles. A mujra tune plays in the background. The scene cracked me up.
The problem with Bol Bachchan is that Shetty and his writers don’t go beyond the humour that drove the original film. The rest of the drama – the one revolving around the main plot – is convoluted, resorting to one-liners best suited to Sab TV serials. Sample this: When an overweight guy asks fitness freak (and akhaada champ) Prithvi what he needs to do to lose weight, Prithvi tell him he needs to stop eating three things. “Breakfast, lunch aur dinner.” I expect school kids to find that joke funny; I heard it first when I was one.
Rohit Shetty, who took the title of Mukherjee’s film and turned it into a multi-crore franchise, takes the original film’s story this time. This isn’t a remake. Shetty takes the basic plot and turns into one of his typical potboilers – high decibel levels, flying cars, a riot of colours and a garish title song included. There are many additions, some interesting, most of them pointless. Ram and Laxman Prasad become Abbas Ali and Abhishek Bachchan (played by junior Bachchan), and a quirk of fate leads to Ali working for the much-feared Prithvi, who has a special despise for liars. A comedy of errors (much of which is tragic for the viewer) follows.
Shetty’s good at adapting simple comic plots in his own outrageous style. In Golmaal Returns, for example, Shetty drew inspiration from the lesser-known but enjoyable Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar and turned it on its head, resulting in a film most enjoyed with friends, a couple of drinks down. It’s easy to criticise his films, and while they aren’t exactly textbooks in filmmaking, I have never come back from a Shetty film with a headache.
Bol Bachchan, sadly, is the director’s weakest film in recent times, with uninspired writing and an obnoxiously lengthy runtime. Along with his team, writers Yunus Sajawal and Sajid-Farhad, the director seems to be stuck in a rut, rehashing humour similar to the one that worked for them in the past. The flying cars, slo-mo shots of Devgn and climactic chase sequences can all be predicted as the film unfolds, and most of it leaves you drained rather than entertained. Having said that, there’s enough in Bol Bachchan to satiate audiences that don’t demand much.
Abhishek Bachchan, frankly, is interesting to watch in a set-up like the one Bol Bachchan provides him with. The film requires him to suspend all inhibitions, and while he falters along the way, slapstick does come naturally to him at places. His portrayal of Abhishek Bachchan is a lot more enjoyable than the caricaturish, effeminate Abbas Ali. Devgn goes through the motions, doing what he does in most Shetty films. Asin and Prachi Desai compete with each other for screen time, and the ability to play sidekick. Archana Puran Singh’s the best of the lot, each of her scenes bringing the house down. Krishna Abhishek, getting his second shot at a film career after a fairly successful TV stint in between, is best suited to the idiot box.
Bol Bachchan, overall, falls short of being a laugh riot in spite of having the ammunition for it. In its current form, it’s best enjoyed inebriated.