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BOL BACHCHAN - Comedy Circus spoof of vintage GOL MAAL

Rohit Shetty continues to pay tribute to a franchise that has brought him name, fame, and moolah with a film that unabashedly parodies the original. We have to see if this 'Comedy-Circus' spoof bears juicy box office fruits. Fox-Star Studio has reportedly paid Rs.73 crores to Ajay Devgn to acquire BOL BACHCHAN. Its theatrical earnings must cross 125 crores to recover the cost of acquisition, even after taking into account the money coming from the sale of satellite rights.

Such spoofs with trade mark gags and action sequences normally don't work beyond a point unless made within modest budgets. I also have a feeling that even the hard-core fans of Rohit Shetty brand of cinema may find BOL BACHCHAN a tedious overdose of slapstick humor and situational comedy.

Thakur Prithvi Singh Raghuvanshi of Ranakpur (Ajay Devgn) hates liars. Abbas Ali (Abhishek Bachchan) of Delhi arrives in Ranakpur with his sister Sania (Asin) after having lost all his property to his relatives in a court case. His well-wisher Shashtri Chacha (Asrani) knows Prithvi Singh and is certain that Abbas may find a job in the new project of the 'bade-dilwala' Thakur who walks English, talks English, and makes an unrecognizable mince-meat of English. He is a three-in-one economy pack of Utpal Dutt, Shatrughan Sinha, and Singham. Abbas saves a child from drowning in a pond by breaking the lock of a temple under dispute just the way it happened in VIRASAT. Ravi (Krushna Abhishek), Shashtri's son, who runs a 'natak mandali' in Ranakpur, introduces Abbas as Abhishek Bachchan to Prithvi Singh and local residents to save Abbas's life. Thus are sown the seeds of the GOL MAAL spoof and a Comedy Circus that employs ancient comic tricks, situational gags, and non-stop punning to generate mirth, combined with extra-long sequences of SINGHAM style 'mara-maari' and 'high-flying-kicking-action'.

The film has just one hero, Ajay Devgn. Abhishek Bachchan is more of a side hero. Rohit Shetty will have to make one more film with Jr. B in the main lead to pay his old debt. This one does greater harm to his reputation as an actor. His bad acting and pathetic buffoonery stands out like a red bulbous nose since the rest of the cast that includes Comedy-Circus stars, small-time extras, and a posse of over-sized ogres who act as pehalwans of Prithvi Singh's 'akhada', has delivered a far better and supremely confident performance than the Bachchan progeny. The overload of happy-fatherhood-fat does no good to his screen persona either. I won't blame Jr. B for this debacle. Shetty has dealt him a raw hand. It looks as if he has deliberately kept him under the shadow of Devgn and has not worked seriously on his character or performance. In the original GOL MAAL the film revolved around Amol Palekar. Here the focus constantly stays on Ajay Devgn.

Prachi Desai plays Prithvi Singh's sister and Jr. B's love interest. In fact, the twin heroines have very little to do or say in the film and are almost redundant. Archana Puran Singh's role as Ranakpur's 'aging-mujarewali-turned-local-comedy-club-comedienne' seems bigger and better.

The film has a major issue of comprehension. The writers have presupposed that Indians from Jhumri-Tallaiya to Barabanki and Ballia are quite conversant with English phrases like 'coming out of the blue' and will laugh their heart out over the 'funniness' of the English-Hindi mix dialogues of Prithvi Singh. It may work with multiplex audiences in big cities, but will prove to be torturous for film buffs in smaller towns and kasbahs who will also have to deal with the cheap and badly maintained low luminance digital projection systems in their local theaters. Quite a few scenes in the film are dark with low contrast ratio and not as bright as they should be for comfortable viewing. One watched the film in a Fun Cinema theater in Mumbai and faced this problem. The UFO theaters in the hinterlands can be even worse.

BOL BACHCHAN does not represent the best of this genre of cinema and is one of the mediocre Rohit Shetty spoofs that relies more on big-banging background score to generate drama and excitement. Even its maar-dhadh-utha-patak sequences are not innovative and have nothing that can surprise audiences. The songs, dances, and music of the film are quite unremarkable.

RKS 'Anaam'