I had read somewhere that Akshay Kumar’s youngest lead actor “Bachchhan Paandey” had failed at the box office. But filmmakers and fans alike blamed the unexpected success of The Kashmir Files for BP’s poor performance in cinemas across India and abroad. Also the IMDB rating for the 2022 Hindi language action comedy is 7.1 out of 10. Not bad I thought for a chilled evening on Amazon Prime.
But just 20 minutes or so later I was certain I was about to face the year’s biggest disappointment in terms of movies. Directed by Farhad Samji, BP draws inspiration from two fantastic films – the 2014 Tamil ‘Jigarthanda’, which in turn was inspired by the 2006 South Korean hit ‘A Dirty Carnival’.
First, after looking at both, I want to be clear that BP isn’t even a quarter the size of its inspirations. In fact, this film makes the audience question the judgments and decisions of actor Akshay Kumar and producer Sajid Nadiadwalaboth successful men of Bollywood who suddenly seem to have affected their tastes and abilities.
The film opens with opening credits and background music that appear to be inspired by the OSTs for Clint Eastwood’s classic Dollars Trilogy. The music isn’t impressive but definitely grabs attention. And that’s the only likable part of the film. The rest is just a collection of some of the worst performances in Bollywood history – both acting and producing.
The title character, Bachchhan Paandey (Kumar), is a ruthless gangster from Baghwa, Bihar. His exploits are not only famous in the region, but reach the ears of up-and-coming Mumbai filmmaker Myra Devekar (Kriti Sanon). Myra was instructed by her producer to find a real life gangster as inspiration for her film and she travels as far as Baghwa to research him.
A series of mishaps and bizarre sequences then ensue as filmmakers attempt to humanize cold-blooded killer Bachchhan Paandey and turn him into a “hero.” This age-old villain-turned-hero narrative is so bluntly inserted into the film that it becomes boring from the start.
The problem with Bachchhan Paandey is that he tries too hard to emulate mainstream South Indian filmmaking, where the characters are loud, colorful and gruesome. Kumar’s title character is a stereotypical villain who has a dramatic secret that justifies his current behavior. But the actor is never comfortable in his role. It seems obvious that the veteran actor is trying too hard to fit into a role he could have easily pulled off a decade and a half ago. Also, his attempted Bihari accent sucks.
Speaking of accents and acting, BP is one of those rare movies where a bunch of famous actors fail collectively. Kriti Sanon is far from her best. Arshad Warsi– the famous Munna Bhai MBBS “Circuit” – plays Vishwakant Mhatre (Vishu), Myra’s cheerful friend, without his usual comical timing. Jacqueline Fernandez as Sophie, Bachchhan’s love interest, could have been replaced by anyone on the crew and no one would have missed her.
Bachchhan Paandey’s abysmal writing not only lets down its main characters but also puts a dent in the resumes of brilliant supporting cast such as Prateik Babbar, Abhimanyu Singh, Sanjay Mishra, Seema Biswas and even the great Pankaj Tripathi who had a good streak in hits the near past. There is absolutely nothing interesting about the characters played by these actors, which is shocking. Again, there has probably been no greater collective failure in Bollywood’s recent history than Bachchhan Paandey.
Who should watch?
Nobody. That’s why I’m writing this review. To warn my friends and readers with Amazon Prime to skip this movie. I don’t like IMDB reviews and Akshay Kumar fans fool you into indulging in this slumberfest.
Rating: 1 star
Genre: Action Comedy
Directed by Farhad Samji
Actors: Akshya Kumar, Kriti Sanon, Jacqueline Fernandez
Running time: 2 hours 27 minutes