Two hapless individuals, Abhishek Bachchan’s Rakesh Trivedi and Rani Mukerji’s Vimmi Saluja, are drawn in together by their dreams. Rakesh wants to be the next Birla, and Vimmi wants to be the next Miss India. But their hopes come crashing down upon them as their parents want a starkly different future for their kids. Rakesh’s father (played by Raj Babbar) wants him to be employed in the Indian Railway Services, like himself. But Rakesh is not exactly excited about that prospect. Rakesh hails from Fursatganj, a place where people have a lot of ‘fursat’ (colloquially speaking, free time). And so Rakesh has all the time in the world to cook up a life for himself where everything is possible.
Enter Rani Mukerji’s Vimmy Saluja. Vimmy is fun, whimsical and wants to make a name for herself in the world of showbiz. But her parents want her to marry and “settle down” with a nice guy who has a nice job. And what happens next in the movie is what should ideally happen every time someone tries to force their own ideologies and aspirations on you. Rakesh and Vimmi make a run for it. They elope and as fate would have it, they bump into each other at a railway station.
Bunty Aur Babli was one of the highest grossing films of 2005, and not without reason. It was a commercial potboiler that entertained with its quirks and charms. The film that starred Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukerji and Amitabh Bachchan was not just another masala film packed with an item song and good-looking people with barely any acting chops. Sure, there’s an item number, that maybe one of the most popular tracks of Bollywood (read Aishwarya Rai’s “Kajra Re”), and yes, there’s a lot of nonsensical heists involved, which might or might not remind some of you of the classic American con film Bonnie and Clyde. But at the heart of it, the Shaad Ali directorial is a true-blue desi film that features the best of both worlds, the goodness and simplicity of small towns and the glamour and outlandish fashion of big cities.
The one scene that stands out in the movie is the part where Bunty and Babli fashion themselves as Phoolwatiji and her assistant. The duo tries to sell off the Taj Mahal to a naive and gullible foreigner who actually buys into their scam of owning one of the most beautiful monuments of the world. Abhishek is seen in top form as the beetle-chewing broker-person of an office-holder. It’s a caricaturish sort of performance that actually works excellently for that particular sequence. “Phoolwatiji is the person in charge of selling and purchase of Taj Mahal, Wah!” says Bunty with the conviction of a man who is trying to sell one of the most popular historical buildings of the world.
Bunty Aur Babli is full of such charming little incidents that make the whole film a rather enjoyable affair. And it’s a shame that we, as lovers of Hindi cinema, are no longer taken for such fun rides anymore.