Cast: Akshay Kumar, Asin, Himesh Reshamiyya
Direction: Ashish R Mohan
Rating: One and a half stars
Gloom and doom. A Jeep goes crash-bang-slam-kaboom. Scores of goons are injured or dead -– remember they’re human too -- but does anyone care? Really, in this intended masala package about the search for a 40-plus superhero’s suitable bride, anything goes. Lots of woes.
Promoted as the eighth edition in an amoeba-like franchise, 'Khiladi 786' is directed by Ashish R Mohan, erstwhile assistant to Rohit Shetty. And throughout it echoes his master’s voice. Result: car mash-ups galore, an illogical plot, execrable humour and a full-on showcase for its lead star to go ballistic in the stunts department. Yup, it’s one of the 2-hour-20-minuter assault on the senses and if one may dare use the word, aesthetics. Clearly the pitch is to cater to the lowest common denominator who are rumoured to inhabit the single screen theatres. And who knows? The producers may also be hoping and praying for crowds to stream in to the multiplexes to watch the frantic antics.
The last time 786 was prominently used, was in the case of Amitabh Bachchan wearing the digit on his arm-badge in Coolie. Wizardly Manmohan Desai made that an emblem of faith and secularism. Here it’s scrawled on the hero’s palm arbitrarily. And his name happens to be Bahattar Singh, or 72 Singh, since he’s born into a family which obviously believes in numerology. The parivar is quite far-out –- alas in the pejorative sense of the term -– comprising cliched Punjabi stereotypes, a batch of tricksters helmed by the patriarch (Raj Babbar). He’s called 70 for one of those obscure reasons.
Plus hold your breath, meet a Chinese, Canadian and African woman too. Since that bit of global warming may not suffice, for the back-up dancers the costume department organises outdated Afro-fright wigs, not to forget dyed moustaches and sideburns which could belong to another planet. Oof.
So, what’s the malarkey about anyway? If you really want to know, it’s about dear old Mansukh (Himesh Reshamiyya) whose dad is in the business of fixing marriages. Son is no chipnik of the old block. Sob. Next: in his last do-or-duh attempt, Mansukh seeks to organise a match made in hell between the Khiladi and a Maharasthrian girl named Indu Tendulkar (Asin Thottumkal). She’s no Barbie doll, as it turns out. In fact, she has to be brought under leash a la Taming of the Shrew. Ergo, the Khiladi woos her with dances, dances and more dances. And he’s dressed to kill, too, in
kurtas which might have been refashioned from the ones used in 'Singh is Kingg'.
The screenplay’s fatal flaw is that Hero 786 just doesn’t measure up to his earlier avatars (in Abbas Mustan’s 1992 whodunit 'Khiladi' or even Umesh Mehra’s 1996 wrestling thriller 'Khiladiyon ka Khiladi'). His reincarnation as a stock-in-trade, self-appointed lawkeeper lacks novelty. So do the supposedly farcical situations. In-jokes abound, but come on, the gambit of the Khiladi and the wedding fixer poking fun at themselves, is hardly worth the price of a ticket.
As for the coming-apart-at-the-seams supporting ensemble, that’s no relief either. Yesteryear’s heroes, Babbar and Chakraborty –- as the heroine’s gangster brother –- are ghettoised into roles which are beneath their status. About the inter-racial caricaturing, the more said the worse.
Technically, the enterprise isn’t remarkable for any visual flourishes or editing chops. The dialogue strives strictly for asinine punch-lines. About the only silver lining: Reshamiyya’s zestful music score. Truly, he should stick to making music. The choreography is robust, making the song-and-dance set pieces the most endurable aspect of this brain curdler.
Of the cast, Asin Thottumkal overacts. Not her fault perhaps, since the director could have guided her towards being extremely overwrought. Akshay Kumar, emboldened by the success of 'Rowdy Rathore' earlier this year, appears to have returned to the mould of the funny guy with fists of fury. Not a great idea, that. How you wish he would re-re-invent himself and insist on playing roles which are commensurate with his age. Aah, wishful thinking that.
Bottomwhine: 'Khiladi 786' is meant only for those viewers who can achieve the medically-physically-and-absolutely-unnecessary feat of leaving their brains at home.
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Khiladi 786 review: As stale as it gets
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Asin, Himesh Reshamiyya