He had come, seen, and conquered way back in the 1970s and 80s and, after a lean period, he rose like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes. In an unprecedented and unrivalled return, Amitabh Bachchan scaled new histrionic heights with roles written specially for him. The films of his oeuvre have ranged from excellent to downright bad but he has always played his role to perfection.
And now we have the tantalizingly titled Bbuddha Hoga Tera Baap, which well might be a tongue-in-cheek answer to all the queries about his retirement. Why should I, he seems to ask, when can do all the things I could do 20 years ago and still look as dashing as ever (white beard notwithstanding)?
This is what Bbuddha is all about—a vehicle show-casing the Angry Young/Old Man of our times. Viju (Bachchan), an ex-hit man, has ostensibly been called home from Paris by the reigning mafia don Kabir Bhai (Raj) to bump-off an inconveniently efficient cop, Karan Malhotra (Sood), who has vowed to clean-up the underbelly of Mumbai. Viju arrives (in style!) but is surprisingly unsuccessful. And therein lies the nub. Is Viju really what he seems? Why is he in India and what is his relation/equation with Sita (Hema Malini) or Kamini (an over-the-top Tandon)? Throw in the cop’s love-angle Tanya (Chauhan), with their tangled love story aided and abetted by Big B, and we have time-traveled to an early 80s Bollywood potboiler.
Any Bachchan fan will catch the delightful references in the film The gangster father versus cop son is straight from Aakhiri Raasta; Bachchan on a Harley reminds one of his entry in Mukkadar Ka Sikander; the estranged wife versus the vampy seductress is from any number of movies, and the swashbuckling act at the end turns the climax of Inquilab on its head. Even his character’s name, Viju, is a play on the many justice-seeking characters he played named Vijay. And here the film delivers what it promises, as the credits claim in the end “The film is a tribute to Amitabh Bachchan.” It is an unadulterated paean to the legend.
What works in the movie is, of course, a no-holds-barred Bachchan. At 68, he rocks. Whether it is the so-called “item,” as he helpfully informs the audience, in which he shakes a leg to a medley of his own hit numbers from yore, or the way he packs his punches or convincingly disposes of villains double his weight and half his age, or gets flirty for his seven decades or dewy eyed when he finally admits that age is catching up.
Bachchan, being Bachchan, does bit of everything in the movie and does it with aplomb. Whether it is singing or dancing or emoting, his bravura performance manages to hold the sketchy story up to a fair extent. Sood, to his credit, holds his own against the legendary actor, Prakash Raj is menacing enough as the reigning don but Makarand Deshpande is reduced to a clown. Tandon looks beautiful but has to let go of her David Dhawan style of overacting, Hema is graceful as ever and does justice to her small role. The new girls on the block, Chauhan and Kaur, are pretty. Period.
The plot dangles at many points, which makes the story meander till the interval and the editing is choppy at best. One casualty to indifferent editing and screen-writing is that instead of creating suspense behind Viju’s identity, the movie ends up merely confusing the viewer with its many loose ends. The subplots interfere with the main story and head nowhere.
The music by Vishal Shekhar is unmemorable except for the medley “Go Meera.”
For most viewers not familiar with or not seduced by the Bachchan aura,Bbuddha will be an unwelcome reminder of the kind of movies we watched during a particularly bad era of Hindi films. Even the poor direction and editing of those times seems to have been faithfully reproduced. Perhaps it was intentional, but it is jarring to an audience that has moved on. But if you’re a die-hard Bachchan aficionado, watch it—this living legend of Hindi movies guarantees that you’ll overlook the movies shortcomings.