Friday, December 22, 2006

Bhagam Bhag 

Priyadarshan’s comedies have now acquired a formula, so audiences know what to expect—characters caught in a maze or mistaken identities, plans going haywire, many criss-crossing subplots and a climax that assembles the whole cast.

Bhagam Bhag goes by the rule book, but is far more implausible than the rest of his films. Champak (Paresh Rawal) runs a theatre company that looks like a ratty little nautanki party, but they are apparently good enough to be invited to London for shows.

Due to the troupe’s two ‘heroes’ harassing the heroine (Tanushree Datta), she refuses to travel with them, and the show is left without a heroine. Bunty (Akshay Kumar) and Babla (Govinda) try to look for a heroine in the local park--don’t ask why they can’t find an Indian dancer when they run into Indians all over London. And later, when the show takes place—far too grand for the skills of the group that are visible—it has hundreds of trained and pretty dancers!

The hunt for the heroine gets them mixed up with a gang of heroin dealers, who have nothing to do with the plot, except to add to the crowd in London. It also takes them to the door of a drunken thug (Shakti Kapoor), who also doesn’t do much but pop up regularly with his mob to chase Bunty. The film is called Bhagam Bhag, so there has to be a lot of running around – most of it needless.

Bunty finds a suicidal Indian woman Munni (Lara Dutta) wandering around and gets her to act in the play. But she regains her lost memory and claims she is the wife of Vikram (Arbaaz Khan). Then she is killed, he is killed, and the three drama dudes are suspected. Incidentally, London has an Indian police commissioner! (Jackie Shroff—looking unhappy) and one Indian cabbie (Rajpal Yadav) with the magical ability to be everywhere at the same time.

The comedy is put aside for a while and the murder mystery takes over, when the supposedly dead Munni is sighted all over London. Whodunit and why is most unconvincing and then there’s the climax where everybody hangs on to a crane and then flies off one by one.

The first half of the film has some zany moments of fun (Neeraj Vora is usually good with comic dialogue), but once the murders happen, it goes into tangles that take a long time to unravel.

For a change a film has explored a location properly and Jeeva has shot it well, particularly the crowd scenes—though why does London look like a Mumbai suburban rail station at peak hours is the real mystery.

Akshay Kumar is at his peak and Govinda a bit rusty—their pair doesn’t quite match, and unfortunately for Paresh Rawal, he doesn’t have much of a role. Worth a smile now and then, but this is not rolling-in-the-aisles material.


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