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Khiladi 786

There’s this absolutely extraordinary scene towards the end of Khiladi 786. Akshay Kumar, who plays this Punjabi superhero, has been blasting away baddies left, right and centre throughout the film and finally someone has managed to land one punch on him. One simple little punch.

Kharonch, savvy? That shot of him getting hurt is suddenly intercut with waves hitting rocks, quakes splitting grounds, seagulls scurrying through the sky… total Tree of Life!

No, Terrence Malick couldn’t have made this film. Naa bhai, naa!

There’s more than a “thin red line”. Do you have any idea with whom we are dealing here? Bahattar Singh, whose father is called Sattar Singh and mother is Canadian, whose uncle is Ikattar Singh and aunt Chinese and whose twin brother Tiyattar Singh was lost in a mela by their South African grandma!

And even if Malick manages to put together this number-crunching international Singhhood, can he, even in his frightmare, rope in Himesh Reshammiya as a Gujarati wedding planner? Naak toh suna hoga? The Nose has co-produced this one and also dropped his nasal notes in the soundtrack. After Zandu balm and Fevicol, this could have been such a natural fit for an Otrivin association, no?

Anyway, this is Akshay’s eighth Khiladi film, a tradition which started with that smart Abbas-Mustan project two decades back. Thereafter the Khiladi films have become synonymous with great Akki action, from WWE to chopper stunts, peppered with everything from bholi-bhaali ladkis to cougar love, from Mamta Kulkarni to Rekha.

But this is 2012. The last Khiladi film was in 2000 and it was 366 short (Khiladi 420). Today Akshay Kumar is a superstar, a brand at the box-office and so he doesn’t even need to hit people anymore. Debutant director Ashish R. Mohan, who had assisted Rohit Shetty on all the Golmaal films plus a couple more, takes his guru’s flying-in-the-air action to another level. 72 Singh rolls his sleeves and they just fly in all directions. And when he does roll his arms, the action looks like Malinga and he strikes like Malinga as well.

The plot is a bit like Anees Bazmee’s Welcome, where an underworld don (Mithun Chakraborty) in Mumbai is struggling to get his sister Indu (Asin) married. Thanks to The Nose, the rishta lands up in the Singh 70s family, who are goons too, just that they pose as cops and loot smugglers on the Punjab border. They all get together and play chor-police even as 72 romances Indu in a club called RD Burman Nights where Claudia Ciesla dances. Till 10:10?

Of course, Khiladi 786 is the kind of film where you are always asked to leave your brains behind at home. In fact, more the body parts you leave at home the better. Your eyes will be saved from the rainbow-coloured costumes and that VIBGYOR truck. Your ears will be saved from Himesh’s naak-daaka. Yet, the circus is amusing at more than one point. While the film doesn’t take itself too seriously — none of these movies should — you can make out that at least some thought has gone into the writing.

That the actors are not running amok on their own and there’s some sense of direction. They want to entertain and not just take the ticket money home.

Akshay has become a veteran of these roles now and while he has never quite hit the Hera Pheri mark again, he is watchable in this one. Asin’s a bit of a downer, too self-serious for a film like this. Of the ensemble comedy cast, Sanjay Mishra is hilarious.

But nothing comes close to Mithunda, of course! With a bushy handlebar moustache so fake that you can see the stickers inside, he is TTT — Tantiya Tukaram Tendulkar. You can imagine where it goes from there. And no, we won’t tell you how awful Himesh is!

It’s never explained though why the Singh family count started from 70! Maybe that’s kept aside for the next Khiladi movie. Before Shaare Chuattar Singh makes an entry, we should get out of here!