Rohit Dhawan’s adapted screenplay and direction is a classic example of how not to remake a hit from the south. Allu Arjun’s Telugu starrer Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo was one of the big hits of 2019 before the pandemic shut down theatres. Alas, Kartik Aaryan will probably be hit by its remake instead of notching up another hit for himself.
The theme of a wealthy industrialist’s son and a poor man’s baby being switched at birth, belongs to Jurassic Park, it’s that ancient.
Disgruntled employees are dangerous, even more when they spend a lifetime being servile. So it’s quite believable that family clerk Valmiki (Paresh Rawal) who nurses a deep hatred for Randeep (Ronit Roy), the son-in-law of the super-rich industrialist family of Jindals, has his own twisted way of venting his frustration. While he watches his biological son Raj (Ankur Rathee) grow up in the luxuries of Jindal mansion, he delights in humiliating Bantu (Kartik Aaryan), the Jindal baby he has brought home. “Kuch logon ko janam se hi samay kharab hai. Very sad,” is his putdown line for a very hurt Bantu. Until Bantu stumbles upon the truth. And starts calling his foster father, “Bloody bachcha badloo.” Laugh because this is supposed to be a mix of comic swagger and deep emotions.
The problem is in the old-fashioned telling. Rohit Dhawan believes that packing in brief appearances from an assortment of comedians is enough to pass off as entertainment. There’s Kunal Vijaykar playing Cadbury the butler (from Richie Rich comics), Rajpal Yadav springing up from nowhere for one supposedly humorous scene, Ali Asgar running around in shorts, Ashwin Mushran as a shady relative, a surgeon who behaves like a villain, Raj so silly that he arrives in a toy car to the dining table, doesn’t react even when his fiancée kisses Bantu but gets a feeble redemption by uncharacteristically breaking into an, “I’m a man with my own ambitions” monologue with his parents. Zzzzzzzz
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With a skinny track of drugs being smuggled in Jindal’s soft toys, Rohit ticks off the much-needed confrontation with crime for Bantu to prove his heroics. Time-worn distractions with zero emotional or comic impact are woven in. Like marital distress between Randeep and wife Yashu (Manisha Koirala) which is sorted out with one intervention from Bantu, dialogue writer Hussain Dalal’s laboured profundities like, “You rich people have taken away the one thing we poor had – dukh (sadness),” and annoyingly-placed songs with no connection whatsoever to the narrative which are far from catchy or melodious. Don’t take a bow, Pritam.
Set action pieces to entice the non-multiplex audience (or B-tier, as the film trade refers to it) are too calibrated to come off as seamless. There’s even a whole office watching impotently like they’re playing statue when Bantu is the sole man running around to save an injured Randeep who’s been knifed by the villain (Sunny Hinduja) in his cabin.
Kartik Aaryan excels at action and dance. But when it’s all so staccato and unappealing in its packaging, claps and whistles aren’t spontaneous.
Oh, oh, I forgot. Kriti Sanon is also around as lawyer Samara. No idea where she fits into the screen chaos that runs for more than two hours.
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