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<i>Bhagam Bhag</i> - A race lost?

By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
In a Priyadarshan comedy one is always comforted in the chaos of colliding characters by the thought that somewhere in the on-going blizzard of bacchanalia there's a rhythm and a rationale.

It's that thought which keeps you smiling through the exasperatingly juvenile games of one-upmanship between Govinda and Akshay Kumar in the prolific director's latest ode to rude- awakening calls from the shudder-world.

While Bhagam Bhag lacks the working-class anxieties of Hera Pheri, it certainly captures some of the colour , flamboyance and friskiness of a dance troupe from Mumbai which arrives in London for a performance without a heroine. Both the heroes, tongue-in-cheekily named Bunty (Akshay) and Babla (Govinda) as tribute to Abhishek and Rani's ongoing boisterousness from the back-waters in Bunty Aur Babli, are asked to get a girl for the play.

Then begins the endless chase. It seems as if the director took the film's title so literally he had to have a supporting cast that could colonize a medium-sized island. Everyone runs and speaks incessantly. Neeraj Vora's lines include severely sexist dialogues like, "If you give izzat to a woman she gives her izzat to you,"... And "You hold her blouse I'll hold her saree." This, when an unconscious woman needs to be carried.

The film takes us on a bumpy, boisterous, wickedly naughty ride. Although we see Akshay getting in and out of London roads and transportation in a slapstick equivalent of a road movie, he seldom gives us reason to apply any logic to the proceedings.

The plot keeps building up into a riot of screams and confusions signifying nothing more than a pesky penchant for a prattlingly pronounced parody that goes around in a dizzying circle.

Akshay Kumar shows a marked tendency to take over the show. Some of the dialogues like the one about cutting other actor's roles are clearly indicative of his growing dominance as an actor. He continues to be funny, re-inventing his self-important character's body language to the extent that he appears to be another person altogether. Of course the grin remains unchanged. Comedy in Hindi cinema has become more a joy for the actors than the viewers.

Govinda is saddled with an under-written dithering role that requires him to be more supporting than aggressive. He's clearly not comfortable standing in Akshay Kumar's shadows. But seems to have little choice. In that sense he's one with the audience. As in all of Priyadarshan's films there's a huge cast of mock-monstrous supporting players , like Shakti Kapoor (with two broken legs), Sharad Sexena (in dark glasses and a grimace), Jackie Shroff ( wearing what could be the most lost look ever in a Hindi film) and Rajpal Yadav (bravely looking confident in cabbie's role).

Lara Dutta plays a suicidal woman. She keeps jumping in front of cars and courting incendiary situations. You could call her the film's kinetic element if only her expressions matched her invisible passions.

The choreography and songs are like Bhendi Bazar versions of Broadway. Yup, the director and his cast go the broad way. Thankfully, the finesse that Priyadarshan brings to the London setting keeps the melee from collapsing in spite of multiple collisions.

But at the end of it all you do wonder if the pointless bhagam-bhag (scamper) is the best remedy for the blues.

How about some weight in the wit next time, Mr Priyadarshan?

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