You know Bachchans are the first family of Bollywood when hit machine Rohit Shetty not only casts two of them in his latest offering but also uses the magic surname in its title, hoping its Midas touch will rub on to his film as well. Smart way to market your movie, I must say.
The film starts with an item song in which Amitabh Bachchan makes a guest appearance along with the main leads Ajay Devgn and Abhishek Bachchan, gyrating to a completely forgettable title song in garish outfits and even more outlandish set – perhaps warning the viewers in advance what’s in store for them.
Director Rohit Shetty of Golmaal fame returns with Bol Bachchan: this time not just borrowing the name but also the plot from the Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s cult classic Gol Maal. Casting his favourite Ajay Devgn, the film is a tribute to Amol Palekar- starrer comic caper. Of course, Shetty has replaced original’s subtle brand of humour and wit with his own brand of over-the-top slapstick fare.
The story: Abbas Ali (Abhishek Bachchan) and his sister Sania’s (Asin) ancestral property has been usurped by greedy relatives, forcing the duo to leave for Ranakpur – a small town in Rajasthan – on the insistence of their uncle Shastriji (Asrani). There, Abhishek is hired by dimwitted-yet-powerful local wrestler Prithviraj Raghuvanshi (Ajay Devgn) who has penchant for spewing out literal English translations of popular Hindi proverbs; in the process mangling the Queen’s language and ensuring a few gags.
Sample this: Main tumhe chhati ka doodh yaad dilaaonga becomes “I will make you remember sixth milk” or “Today my chest has become blouse!”
Ajay Devgn’s comic timing is intact and his one-liners elicit several guffaws but after a while the jokes become predictable. Similarly, Abhishek does a fine job of playing twin roles of Abhishek Bachchan and Abbas Ali, the latter being the effeminate Kathak dance teacher without the moustache . Although his dance medley on Bollywood chartbusters is funny, one does wish Hindi cinema moves beyond its hackneyed portrayal of homosexual men as lip-biting and tongue-licking caricatures.
The film harks backs to the movies of the yore – heavily inspired by the entertainers of Manmohan Desai – with action, romance, family feuds all put into the cauldron and sprinkling the concluding dish with the sermon on religious tolerance.
The supporting cast is also adequate. Archana Puran Singh as nautch girl Zohra gets some good punchlines, as does Krushna Abhishek playing the role of Ravi Shastri. . The women, Prachi Desai and Asin, have nothing to do except look pretty.
Although an official remake of the original Gol Maal, Shetty’s version lacks the imagination and wit of the former; substituting them with his signature action sequences likes flying cars, slo-mo freeze framed combat scenes and visual razzmatazz.
You don’t expect impeccable continuity and authenticity from this genre of cinema but it is still jarring to see lush, green countryside of Maharashtra (Wai and Panchagani) being passed off as arid Rajasthan in some of the scenes.
Even more disappointing is the music. You’d anticipate some foot-tapping, catchy singles from Himesh Reshammiya but the insipid music here makes you wish the film was completely devoid any songs – at least it would be shorter and tighter.
Yes, the film isn’t bad, it’s actually quite funny in parts; however at 2 hours 30 minutes, it is certainly too long and predictable to keep the audience engrossed. The climax is specially insufferable, with Shetty deciding to rehash Anees Bazmi’s Welcome and No Entry, which is a pity as despite his loud masala histrionics, he has always been original.
Go watch Bol Bachchan if you’re in the mood for some madcap entertainment, but if yearning for nostalgia, dive into your DVD selection and watch the inimitable evergreen classic. There’s no substitute for it.