Friday, January 2, 2015

Movie Review: Kick

Last night, through the rustling wind and pounding rain, I heard the faint strains of a song. It was the Spirit of Bollywood crooning a melancholy melody, reflecting upon the newest product it had just belched out.

There's something inside me that pulls beneath the surface. Consuming, confusing. 
This lack of self-control I fear is never ending. It’s controlling. 
I can't seem to find myself again, My walls are closing in (without a sense of confidence and I'm convinced that there's just too much pressure to take). 
I've felt this way before, so insecure. 

It might also have been an insomniac neighbour playing Linkin Park, but since I’d just watched Kick, I prefer my Spirit of Bollywood version. Sajid Nadiadwala, the producer of arthouse classics like Housefull; Chetan Bhagat, India’s modern literary genius; and Salman Khan, the unparalleled successor to Orson Welles, teamed up for one project and it is known as Kick. In the mystic Dead Sea Scrolls, it was written that such a union could melt polar ice caps, burn gigantic holes in the ozone layer and cause tsunamis that could engulf the whole planet. Kick is almost there: it melts the brain, burns a hole in your pocket and causes a tsunami of rage within you.

Which is why I found myself singing along with the Spirit of Bollywood last night: Crawling in my skin, these wounds they will not heal. Bhai’s films is how I fall, confusing what is real. Nadiadwala may have parted ways with Sajid Khan. But in Kick, his debut film, he proves something historic: he is a much worse filmmaker than Khan. For years Khan has been well regarded as someone who doesn’t try very hard while acting in a film. With Kick, Nadiadwala shows what it really means to not make an effort. To say that he phones it in would mean he actually made the effort to make a call on sets.

From the look of things, Nadiadwala couldn’t be bothered. Kick is a Salman Khan film, which is exactly like every other previous Bhai film, made for Bhai fans. This means a) The script would depress a dull primate b) All women in the film are utterly stupid, c) Bhai is an angelic godlike creature sent to us by Lord Xenu only to be worshipped d) There have to references to previous Bhai films. It’s called being meta.

What’s that you say? This Bhai film is different and good because it has a huge budget and is set in phoren locations? If Jai Ho was a smelly sock, then Kick is a smelly sock placed in an fancy box and wrapped in a silver foil. You open the box and the effect is still the same. The massive budget of the film doesn’t much manifest itself into the visuals in a convincing manner. There is an appalling animated sequence and the CGI looks like it was made for a few rupees in a basement Pentium 2 PC.

In a scene where Bhai drives a bus through parked cars, the cars fly around like video game rag dolls. But once again, this is a masala commercial film and I shouldn’t expect anything smart or classy. Right? Wrong. You can choose to have a good script. You can choose to entertain audiences by not insulting their intelligence. You can choose to not have Jacqueline Fernandez playing a psychologist whose idea of treating a patient is to bring him home and then take him to a bar. You can choose to not show Saurabh Shukla bent over an exercise ball with a hulking, tattooed yoga instructor looming over him.

The only agenda that Kick has is to squeeze Bhai into every frame of the film and make him a contrived superhero. I’ll avoid making any Kick puns about how hard the blows feel, but I can tell you the film does contain one interesting scene. Bhai dances in a club to ‘Saat samandar paar’ and jeers at Randeep Hooda by showing him the text on the back of his T shirt – it reads ‘LOSER’. Is that meant for the audience or Khan being self-deprecating? I don’t think so.

The supporting cast in Kick, despite looking decent on paper, doesn’t work very hard either. Considering the script, it’s not surprising since everyone in the Kick universe exists only to make Bhai’s idiotic superhero look “cool”. Hooda sneers his way through the film and Nawazuddin Siddiqui hams to the hilt — every time there’s a manic bark of laughter from him, it’s like he’s imagining the sound of his bank account being credited. As is the case with most Bhai films, none of the setbacks are going to matter as such, because for diehard Bhai fans, they're trifles in a box of goodies. And a review of the film is hilariously useless, because no known force on this planet can stop a Bhai film from sending the box office registers ringing. Bhai seems to have discovered the elixir of life with the Eid release strategy. In the annals of time whether or not the chaand shows up, a Bhai film certainly will.

No wonder then that the Spirit of Bollywood wandered through the city last night, drunk and depressed. The last words of its song are a haunting echo: I tried so hard and got so far. In the end, it doesn’t even matter.

(First published in Firstpost)

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