Cast: Akshay Kumar, Shruti Haasan, Sunil Grover, Suman Talwar, Jaideep Ahlawat Director: Krish Rating: One and a half stars
Doctor, I cut the umbilical cord with a Swiss knife. Hope that’s okay?” This is what Shruti (Shruti Hassan), the annoying do-gooder, says to a doctor after she has extorted a baby from a screeching pregger in the back seat of Gabbar’s car. We neither see the doctor’s bewildered expression, nor do we hear the expletive the doctor may have mumbled.
But this is a statement of much import. For this is exactly what director Krish should have said to A.R. Murugadoss from whose story and Tamil film (Ramanaa, 2002) Gabbar Is Back is derived. Except that Krish and his star Akshay Kumar don’t so much as cut the umbilical neatly, but smash it to smithereens with stardom ka danda, wrenching it from all things that made Ramanaa a half-way decent film.
That one had a real-world setting where realish people operated; this one has stuttering links to reality solely for the purpose of manipulating our emotions in the crassest way possible. And worse, that one had music by Ilayaraja; this one has noise generated by Yo Yo Honey Singh, among others.
Much like the 10 tehsildar who are kidnapped in the first few seconds of the film and dumped in a secret location, we are flung in the middle of something that’s been going on for a while.
Gabbar, aka Aditya (Akshay Kumar), heads a secret kill-the-corrupt mission. His honest minions collect details of who got how much bribe and, depending on their score, bhrashtacharis are moved up and down the corruption rating chart. The one on top is dangled, every Friday, from a lamp post/bridge/flyover, garlanded with files about his corrupt compatriots and a CD from Gabbar where he announces his next target. Gabbar moves department-wise — PWD, police department… — and his CDs contain such lines: “Our system is like bachche ka used diaper. Kuch geela, kuch dheela.” Taliyan, I say.
Though the terrible background music is mixed with some of Gabbar Singh’s famous dialogues, there is nothing Gabbar like about Aditya. He’s neither menacing, nor memorable. Aditya holds a sober job and is a humshakal of many one-week-wonders Akshay Kumar has played in the past. Aditya has taken the alias because of the reputation of fear it carries, but the film does nothing to make the name fit the character. Because, well, it’s Akshay.
Gabbar is on a killing spree and in Mumbai’s police headquarters, where five nincompoop senior cops are chomping on samosas, constable Sadhu (Sunil Grover) is investigating Gabbar and getting close.
Gabbar’s anti-corruption crusade takes him to a hospital where an instant connect is made with our own feelings about super-speciality, super-smug, super-chor hospitals. This all-violins-out outing leads to the film’s real villain, Digvijay Patil (Suman Talwar) who repeatedly announces, “I am a brand”. Instantly we know that Gabbar will bajao his band. But not before we are treated to a flashback starring a star and a tragedy that’s so fake that it’s laughable.
This is followed by some more tacky fight scenes that involve the same-old slaps, flying kicks, humans smashing into glass windows, tables, chairs, cupboards, and we arrive at the climax where the point to note is that this Gabbar delivers pravachans to the nations youth who are weaving the future, one post at a time, on Twitter and Facebook.
Director Krish and superstar Akshay’s GIB is a hectic, loud film that skids from one episode to another introducing characters — all prefabricated, one-dimensional ones necessary for simulating a vigilante melodrama — and pushing the story to its inevitable end.
All vigilante films are devious. They cast us in the role of hapless onlookers as tragedies claim sweet innocents and the only thing left to do is to bay for blood. For our satisfaction, stars have been bludgeoning the corrupt for ages, and saying, take the law in your own hands. Though exploitative and formulaic, many were good films. GIB is a bad film that’s also disturbingly cynical in its plotting.
Somewhere in the bombast and bakwas of GIB sits a tiny kernel of truth — about our ironic, sad lives, about Bharat Sarkar that does everything unscrupulous under the aegis of Satyamev Jayate. The film dips into that — making us weep over our own frustrations, anger — and first lets us draw satisfaction from watching the powerful and corrupt quake with fear and die, and then, pandering shamelessly to our mob mentality, goads us to take action without accountability. This is the worst message possible in these moronic times. Sure, somewhere the slaps that are delivered need to be delivered. Sure, some scenes are funny. But GIB says it’s noble to act, not introspect; that if you are angry, you must be innocent. That’s the biggest lie we tell ourselves. And GIB tells it again and again.
The doofus played by Shruti Haasan is totally superfluous to the film. She irritates us with nonsensical chitter-chatter about “according to Google… as per Google…” I googled her and, well, according to Google, Ms Haasan has had a successful lip and nose job. So that, perhaps, is why she was hanging around pouting — to exhibit her newly-remodelled face.
I fear that in a year’s time all Bollywood actresses will look the same, their faces sitting somewhere in the face-card that moves from Aishwarya Rai to Katrina Kaif. That’s Bollywood’s template of beauty. It’s another matter that Aishwarya and Katrina may not look like themselves in a year’s time.
Akshay Kumar sometimes uses a stunt in fight scenes and all villains stand around as if in a game of Statue, waiting for his kicks to arrive. But he has very healthy gums. His dentist would be proud. He still, however, insists on wearing shirts with hoods. His wife should be worried.