Baadshaho Review

“Baadshaho” starring Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Ileana D’Cruz, Esha Gupta and Vidyut Jammwalis set in the mid-1970s. (Baadshaho/Twitter photo)

T-Series & Vertex Motion Pictures present “Baadshaho”

Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar and Milan Luthria

Directed by: Milan Luthria

Written by: Rajat Aroraa

Music: Tanishk Bagchi, Ankit Tiwari & Kabir’s Café

Starring: Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Ileana D’Cruz, Esha Gupta, Vidyut Jammwal, Sanjay Mishra, Denzil Smith, Sharad Kelkar, Priyanshu Chatterjee & others, Sp. App.: Sunny Leone

It is the mid-1970s and Emergency has been declared. An important politician called Sanjeev (Priyanshu Chatterjee, modeled on Sanjay Gandhi just like Neil Nitin Mukesh in “Indu Sarkar”) is rebuffed by Ranisaa (queen) Geetanjali (Ileana D’Cruz) when he tries to act fresh with her at a palace party. Seething with fury, he bides his time until Emergency is declared, and plans revenge – as per what is a given then, he will confiscate all her wealth. But he will not surrender it to the Indian treasury but gobble it himself.

Under that pretext, the doughty Ranisaa is jailed, and the huge royal treasure is confiscated. Ex-Army officer Seher Singh (Vidyut Jammwal) is instructed to deliver it in a specially equipped truck to Sanjeev himself by his ex-superior (Denzil Smith).

But Ranisaa has other plans. Even from within the jail, she manages to instruct loyal bodyguard Bhawani (Ajay Devgn) to stage a heist and get back her treasure to a pre-decided place so that she can escape across the border. Bhawani hires a team – expert lock opener Tikla (Sanjay Mishra) and his friend Dalia (Emraan Hashmi), and Sanjana (Esha Gupta), a loyalist to the queen for a personal reason joins them. Just before intermission, the heist is planned and executed successfully despite some major hiccups arising out of the overt act of the police during Emergency. What happens next?

Superficially, the twists and turns and the fact that not many characters are what they seem to give the feel that Rajat has written a script for Abbas-Mustan. But when we see the grit, intensity, and ruggedness in the script, characters and film, it is clear that we have a seasoned master of pithy drama like Milan Luthria rather than those purveyors of thrillers at work. The violence is in tight control in the jail torture sequence, and the sudden smashing in of the armored truck to rescue the prisoners is one of the film’s highlights.

There are other highlights – high-octane action, solid vocal punches during the drama and the wry humor. There are also predictable sequences like the opening of the safe by Tikla, but they are small clichés in this bouquet of classic Hindi action entertainment, like the chase sequences of the truck by Kelkar as a cop and even the Emraan Hashmi chase by Jammwal. A high point is the way Jammwal convinces his superior (Smith) to release Geetanjali so that she can be followed to where she has hidden the treasure.

However, a major put-off is the film’s end that leaves everything open-ended: we do not know what happens to both Seher and Geetanjali. There is no logic whatsoever to this other than the realization that it can only keep the doors open for a sequel! Nevertheless, they could have wrapped up the film better even with that intention as the end looks very abrupt indeed, give or take a few “very”’s!

The film gets a boost from Aroraa’s punchy dialogues and the racy tenor of the script, Sunita Radia’s excellent cinematography, Shashank Tere’s and Saini S. Johary’s authentic production design and the cleverly-designed action by Ramazan Bulut, Javed and Aejaz. The background music (John Stewart Eduri) is skillfully done, cliché-ridden only in small parts, but the songs, yet again (many ‘agains’!) for a T-Series production, are not inspiring at all. The costumes (Payal Saluja) for the queen and the rugged outfits of Devgn and Sanjay Mishra are well thought-out.

Ajay Devgn, of course, dominates as the very emotional yet resourceful Bhawani, his expressions a splendid mix of determination, loyalty and repressed anger. This is one of his better performances because it is not in-your-face intense but naturally so. Sanjay Mishra enjoys being his usual self and scores high as Tikla. In the third position is Ileana D’Cruz as the feisty queen, who is very determined in everything till the last. Her smoldering expressions are outstanding.

Esha Gupta is decent, Kelkar passable, and Jammwal just alright. Smith and Priyanshu have nothing much to do, but Emraan Hashmi comes across as a charming rake. Sunny Leone performs a hot and uninhibited number, but why is the poor thing getting consistently bad songs?

If entertainment with elements like thrills and action is your cup of tea, go for it. Otherwise, stay away from this rollercoaster of drama sprinkled with action. Accordingly, this smooth ride with an abrupt finish will lead you to gratification, or to nowhere.

Rating: ***1/2

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