"Mujhe bhai nahi godfather bolte hai!" This declaration by Akshay Kumar as the charismatic yet frightening gangster, Bachchhan Paandey, sets the tone for this year’s Holi entertainer, Bachchhan Paandey. Before the character, we want to acknowledge how Akshay himself has proven to be the godfather for cinemas in post-Covid times. In 2021, it was his dhamakedaar Diwali release, Sooryavanshi, which pulled the audiences back to the theatres. In 2022, the superstar has pledged to make your Holi rangeen (albeit bloodied) with Bachchhan Paandey. And, we are not complaining.
Ever since Allu Arjun’s Pushpa: The Rise raked up a storm at the box office, cine-goers wondered when masaledaar Bollywood films would be able to win us again. Trust Akshay Kumar to take up the challenge and prove that commercial entertainers never go out of style. Style, surely comes aplenty in his Bachchhan Paandey, right from his ‘killer’ entry. He has one goal in life: to have everyone fear him. He does that with much conviction.
Bachchhan Paandey is the remake of the 2014 Tamil film, Jigarthanda. There, it was Bobby Simha’s Sethu wreaking havoc as Assault Kumar. In the 2022 Hindi version, Khiladi Kumar turns into Bachchhan Paandey, jiska dil aur aankh dono patthar ke hai. He commits brutal murders with ease. His weapon of choice? You name it and he can swing it - knives, hammers and guns. He is also capable of killing people with his bare hands. He doesn’t miss his target, and you never miss his swag. Credit goes to the sound effects as well.
Myra, played by Kriti Sanon, is an aspiring director who takes on the dangerous task of documenting this ruthless gangster’s life. In the original film, Kriti’s character was essayed by Siddharth (Karthik on screen). Brownie points to the makers for adding some freshness to the script by making this switch.
In her mission, Myra is joined by her friend Vishu, played by Arshad Warsi. While he calls Bachchhan Paandey ‘Raavan’, he agrees to accompany Myra to Baghwa on the promise of being cast as the second hero and in hopes of stealing the main hero’s thunder. The banter between the two friends is a real treat to watch.
So, they try to get to Bachchhan Paandey by employing different ways and reaching out to people from his gang. Those closest to Paandey are Kaandi (Saharsh Kumar Shukla), Pendulum (Abhimanyu Singh), Bufferia chacha (Sanjay Mishra) and Virgin (Prateik Babbar). All these individuals have their own quirks and stories. They have all done a decent job at making us laugh with their antics, even though some punches only deserve eye-rolls.
The film overall is just as one would expect - full of over-the-top and double-meaning dialogues, punctuated by a hailstorm of bullets and punches, and a story that’s totally predictable. But, when you go in for a mass entertainer, you are ready to enjoy this concoction. And, Bachchhan Paandey works in this regard. All claps and whistles are earned.
Now, every gangster has a story worthy of being on the big screen. Myra does this for Bachchhan Paandey, braving all the challenges along the way. Pankaj Tripathi shines in his short but impactful role as acting guru Bhaves Bhoplo. Now, a guru must give aashirwad, but the student is Bachchhan Paandey, hence the hilarious ‘crotch-grabbing’ scene. More or less, the comedy manages to click in the film.
There’s another character who defines Bachchhan Paandey’s story, Sophie, played by Jacqueline Fernandez. She might have had a big role to play in his life as his one true love, but in the film, she is merely a passerby. The romance between the two is silly, but vibrant because it develops in Rajasthan. You feel disconnected and are thankful that it all ends quickly with Sophie’s death. What next? Bhaukaal ensues.
Akshay Kumar’s performance as Bachchhan Paandey is power-packed and entertaining, through-and-through. He is also menacing and awesome in his own ways. Kriti Sanon has honed her skills in her last couple of films to the point where Myra seems to come effortlessly to her. Arshad Warsi is once again the comedy genius we absolutely love. Jacqueline Fernandez is beautiful, but the acting is blah. Pankaj Tripathi is kamaal. The supporting cast which forms Paandey’s gang is good.
Director Farhad Samji has made this hardcore commercial entertainer in service of its star. As promised, the movie does have all the elements - action, comedy, romance, drama and thrill. The momentum does rise and fall, but it’s never a jarring shift. The climax goes for an emotional turn, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. The cinematography is brilliant. As for the songs, they are well-placed. Those who’ve become used to enjoying films without characters breaking into dances might find some of it tiresome.
While Sooryavanshi’s box-office numbers were phenomenal, it’s hard to say how far Bachchhan Paandey would go, considering all eyes are on The Kashmir Files these days. The film, based on the true story of the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir in 1990, has created box-office history and its stronghold is unlikely to fade anytime soon.
But surely, Akshay Kumar’s rowdy avatar in Bachchhan Paandey has its own audience. In the film, he says, "Maarte the, majaa aata tha, aur maarte the, aur majaa aata tha," when asked why he became a gangster. Well, if you like to watch maar-dhaad on the big screen packaged in a masala film, go for this ‘Holi pe goli’ offering.