Bollywood Film Review “Baadshaho”

  

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE

First, the Recap:

A state of disturbance. When upheaval in any form rules the day, there are bound to be those who take advantage, even among individuals who might consider themselves keepers of the law, representatives of the government, or simply those striking out in hopelessness. Hard times, desperate measures. It is the time known in history as “The Emergency”, and India as a nation reels under building civil unrest and even violence. Trying to maintain a hold over those she rules while keeping a scheming politician at bay, one of Rajasthan’s Princely State queens, Gitanjali (Ileana D’Cruz), faces a new trial when the Indian government seizes her privy purse, therefore depriving her of much of the wealth she’d amassed and hidden away.

Unwilling to stand for it, she contracts her very adept bodyguard Bhawani (Ajay Devgn) to hatch a plan to steal the gold back as it is being transported by armored truck to Delhi via orders from unscrupulous Army commander Rudra Singh (Denzil Smith) while under the watch of tough-as-nails Army officer Major Seher Singh (Vidyut Jamwal). Gathering a motley band of would-be “thieves”, including Dalia (Emraan Hashmi) and Sanjana (Esha Gupta) plus perpetually drunken locksmith Tikla (Sanjay Mishra), Bhawani puts his plan into motion.  However, the road to regaining what was lost is never a smooth one, and soon, a harrowing mix of shifting alliances, double crosses, and highly volatile confrontations threaten to not only put all of their lives in danger, but reveal what real motives and agendas are in play.

Next, my Mind:

Delivering a film that’s part action, part drama, part period piece, and all Bollywood, director/producer Milan Luthria’s newest effort honestly left this reviewer a little disappointed, however, especially given the star power behind and in the project, plus the general relevance the greater historical period being portrayed represents for that era in India’s heritage. Now, I will say part of my potential frustration with the film could more be based on the fact the projection in the theater wasn’t quite centered correctly, and therefore cut off the large majority of subtitles I needed in order to follow the dialogue. So, the sheer amount of equally relevant nuances in the story itself and among the characters throughout were very sadly lost to me. But, from what I could piece together, plus just taking in the film’s visual aspects to follow the story, I still couldn’t help but feel there was just that next echelon of potency to everything that didn’t quite make it here. Now, that said, the action is still good, it is gorgeously shot, the scope of the film is engaging, and it plays more like an independent film than mainstream (which is usually a good thing for me). Yet, still, it fell just short of the “Wow!” factor I was expecting.

From an acting standpoint, the effort does shine quite a bit, even if the characters here still might have felt a little too much “been there, done that”. Devgn is always superb when it comes to playing the bad@#$, and here is not an exception as Bhawani, a no-nonsense bodyguard to Gitanjali who also has more than a passing fancy for his client. Highly skilled in his chosen profession, he becomes the logical person turned to to mastermind the heist and re-obtain the stolen gold. The seriousness in which he carries this out belies the fact Bhawani does have a heart and softer side, but anyone getting to see that is rare, and Devgn is at his best when staring down the camera with the smoldering glares he’s known for. D’Cruz is looking beautiful as always and offers up a solid turn here as the wronged Rajasthan queen Gitanjali, a woman of means, a strong leader, fiercely independent, yet still having a vulnerable side as well. She’s dead set at getting her wealth back, and asks (or really perhaps manipulates?) Bhawani to get it done, while ultimately showing as the story unfolds that her own plans and loyalties might not be as clear cut as it appears. These shifting dynamics are very decently enacted by D’Cruz throughout.

Hashmi’s Dalia is quite a character, a pure rogue with charm, charisma, and plenty of attitude to get himself in lots of trouble.  But, he is very astute is the abilities he brings to the table, and very much adds some humor to the proceedings as well, which Hashmi does well. Gupta’s Sanjana is basically the female version of Bhawani, all tough chick and not someone to mess around with, even though her interactions with Dalia are a blast and actually playful at times. Mishra honestly steals the show more than once as the constantly drinking locksmith Tikla, an older man who really just wants to relax, drink, sleep it off, and start over.  Yet, his skillset is integral and undeniable. Jamwal is also another who is all hard-nosed demeanor as Major Singh, an officer who follows orders yet may be another person who isn’t exactly what he seems when it comes to choosing sides. Smith does well as Commander Rudra Singh, Seher’s boss and one who doesn’t care what he has to do in order to be the one in charge at the end of the day. Additional support comes from Priyanshu Chatterjee, Sharad Kelkar, and Lankesh Bhardwaj. Plus, there’s the “Piya More” song/dance sequence featuring Sunny Leone. ‘Nuff said there.

In total, despite some fault in it just having that slightly underwhelming feeling even though buoyed by solid acting and visuals, “Baadshaho” is still a worthy effort to take in, thought perhaps not one to rush out and see.

As always, this is all for your consideration and comment.  Until next time, thank you for reading!

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