Madness, metal & mom
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- Published 8.05.10
A con film is allowed to be many things. It can be devoid of emotions. It can have a weak love story. It can have average acting. But one thing it just cannot be is stupid!
Like all Yash Raj Films movies which try to simplify and sugarcoat things, Parmeet Sethi’s directorial debut aims to be a con film for dummies. But it just ends up being very dumb. It talks about one big idea changing lives. Well, rest assured, Badmaash Company is not that big idea.
The film starts in 1990s Mumbai with three boys, who’ve just given their final college exams, smuggling dollars in their socks and undies to Bangkok. Why? No explanations. They are not stone broke, neither are they in trouble. One guy only drinks. One guy only looks for girls. One guy wants to have his own company listed on the stock market. They are joined by a Jaipur girl who wants to be a model. Why are they all carriers then? No explanations.
But don’t mistake this nonchalance for the mischievousness of Bunty Aur Babli. The con-air around the frolicking foursome is not half as much fun. For Karan (Shahid Kapur), it’s serious business as he announces to his desk-job-vet father (Anupam Kher): “Main aapki zindagi nahin jee sakta.” So why doesn’t the college topper become big the straight way? You should have got it by now — no explanations!
As an afterthought, the baap has a heart attack, the maa sells her jewellery and the beta becomes badass badmaash. Haq se! And what badmaashi! First by selling single shoes, then by selling single gloves and finally by selling shirts which change colours with every wash! What did we tell you? Don’t ask for explanations. Well, if this helps, Michael Jackson wore those shirts on his concert tour! And, Parmeet’s Believe It Or Not, a couple of consignments of those shirts actually create ripples in the US stock market. Dream accomplished!
Blame all this on the six-day script (that was the time taken by Parmeet to pen the script, he told t2). There’s nothing wrong with the short time taken to bang out this blabber. The Coens have written scripts in eight days. Well, to put it politely, Parmeet could do with some brotherhood to bail him out next time.
For starters, who is Parmeet trying to con? Even if it is in the late 90s, how can four jobless Indians just take a flight to the US and settle down there? How can they be allowed to do business there? Which bank or financial institution would loan millions of dollars to Indians having a criminal record?
In a film where such basic facts are completely bypassed, imagine what the detailing would be like. So you have the poster of the 2000 Anil Kapoor-Aishwarya Rai film Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai on the Mumbai walls and a US billboard of the musical Mamma Mia, which only premiered on Broadway in 2001. And “no freaking way” was hardly the lingo back then.
If the writing is bad, the direction is no good. A good barometer is Shahid Kapur. You can always tell a well-directed Shahid Kapur from an undirected Shahid Kapur. He can’t be bad but he would often slip out of being Karan (can’t blame him, there’s only so much of characterisation) and start talking like Aditya of Jab We Met. You just can’t miss the familiar tone of “I am going, man!” or “Come on, guys”. Clearly Imtiaz Ali had brought out the natural Shahid, which oozes out every now and then, whenever let loose.
Anushka Sharma looks pretty (no, not sexy, even in that teeny-weeny yellow bikini top) but swings largely between two expressions — one up, the other upset. The rest of the Badmaash Company — Vir and Chang — is comparatively a lot more natural. Especially Chang, who shows no stiffness of a debut. Unlike Parmeet!
Despite the triumphant tone, Pritam’s soundtrack lacks the recall factor. Jingle jingle, Chaska and Ayaashi are all easy on the ears but then they also find their way out as easily. Sanjay Kapoor, who worked as a camera operator on Bourne Supremacy, shoots Badmaash Company with the right measure of con-movie zing. Editor Ritesh Soni, though, should have been more ruthless with the 150-minute length of the film, bringing the pace up and boredom down considerably.
Yash Raj Films has all the ‘right’ things. They have got the biggest stars at their disposal, they have got the best distribution networks, they have got the latest technological resources to play with. Yet they are getting it ‘wrong’ almost every time in recent times.
Maybe they need to turn into a badmaash company and actually do all the wrong things... the right way.