BANG BANG. Director: Siddharth Anand. Players: Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Danny Denzongpa, Javed Jaffrey, Jimmy Shergill, Dipti Nawal. Music: Vishal-Shekhar. Hindi w/ Eng. Sub-titles. Theatrical release (Fox Star).
After the successful Roshan-Kaif pairing in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, it was only a matter of time before another big budget vehicle roped them together again. Floated on an incredibly huge budget—the actual figure being somewhat persnickety to pinpoint—the roulette wheel stopped at Bang Bang, an international action-adventure Roshan-Kaif joyride that explodes from almost the get-go. Even though the script stretches credibility more than once, this mindless high-seas and high desert romp works because the overall gig is somewhat plausible and the cast appears to be having genuine tongue-in-cheek fun.
For Fox Star studio, getting rights to formally remake the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz 2011 thriller Knight and Day was not nearly as difficult as skewing the story in an Indian direction to give it sub-continental flavor. Not to worry—this all turns out so-very-Indian! Rajveer Nanda, a dastardly international jewel thief wanted for siphoning off with none other than the famed Kohinoor diamond from its Tower of London keep, ends up in Shimla (see, Indian flavor already!) where he has an unanticipated encounter with Harleen Sahni (Kaif), the virginal bank teller who is very Indian-shy and yet very not afraid to show off her leggy physique.
Before the stolen gem can be recovered, Rajveer and Harleen are on the run from both Interpol and from criminals unleashed by underworld mastermind Omar Zafar (Denzongpa), who wants the Kohinoor at any cost. Playing off one side against the other on a backdrop of the afore-mentioned high speed chases, our winsome twosome find themselves running out of hideaways as the chase takes them from North India to Europe to Australia. Director Anand, whose usual forte is rom-coms (Anjaana Anjaani, Salaam Namaste, Bachna Ae Haseeno), to his credit here manages to keep the romantic aspect of the runaway bank-teller jaunt sufficiently grounded to give the plot a watered down third-dimension.
In a nod to ever-improving delivery of visual effects in Hindi movies, the action sequences are highly fluid. There are no telltale jumper-cables following Roshan as he defies gravity and appears to stroll up the walls of Zafar’s desert oasis lair. A high-seas chase with Roshan taking dolphin-like leaps in and out of water while being chased by Zafar’s henchmen who are on jet skis is a thrilling testimonial to how much, um, bang can delivered for the big-budget visual gimmicks buck.
There are also other connections and noteworthy names who help make the story gel. Nawal as Rajveer’s mother, Shergill as Rajveer’s brother and Jafrey as a clumsy underworld overlord add texture to the casting. Vishal-Shekhar’s music score does well with both the title track and the “Maherban Maherban” tracks.
Since Hindi film actors still serve as pin-up fodder for millions of fans—in oh-the-things-I-do-for-India moves—Roshan goes shirtless while Kaif bares enough mid-riff epidermic acreage to meet demanding prurient quotas set by the masses. As modern update to the traditional wet-sari-in-a-downpour scene, we also witness Kaif-in-mini-skirt lounging on a plus-sized swing against an icy cold Himalayan backdrop. Roshan, after his highly acclaimed turn as Emperor Akbar in Jodhaa-Akbar (2008), may not get into a serious role again until Ashutosh Gowariker’s historical epic Mohenjo Daro unspools in 2016. Along the way, Roshan appears to be merrily lining up both box office hits and his pockets.
A record-seeting 5000+ theaters global release? Check. State of the art special effectis?
Check. A scantily-clad, nubile Kaif? Check. A scantily-clad, pumped up Roshan? Check. Huge budget? Box office in the top 10 of all time Hindi film box office grosses? Biggest box office of any Hindi movie in North American in 2014? Check, check and check. Drat—curtains! Now, quick—sneak out before someone sees you!
EQ : B-