The kindest thing I can say about this Hindi remake of Karthick Subbaraj’s ‘Jigarthanda’, in which a wet-behind-the-ears director sets about making a film about a notorious gangster, is that it shouldn’t have been attempted at all.
Literally nothing about ‘Bachchhan Paandey’ reaches the level of hilarity plus inspired lunacy of the original. Akshay’s playing of the mobster of the same name involves throwing everything at the wall, hoping it will stick: burning his victims alive, check; knifing them in half, check; shooting holes into them, yes, yes.
In between all the skewering and the shooting, he finds time to romance pretty ‘firangi’ gal Sophie (Jacqueline Fernandez), and sing a song. And because this is a Hindi movie, in which the bad hero needs a redemptive arc, he is given a mother, played by Seema Biswas, who is on screen for three scenes. Or maybe four.
The enthusiastic filmmaker is played by Myra (Kriti Sanon) who shows up in the badlands of UP attired in Bombay boho-chic. Before contriving to bump into her scary subject, she lucks into old pal Vishu (Arshad Warsi), who agrees to help her out in return for a role in the film. Except he is not Hero Number Two, who will eat up Hero Number One. He is the Sidekick. And not a sidekick to the hero, which Warsi has had to excel at, but to the heroine. Yep, you heard that right.
The first half is execrable, its set pieces designed to showcase Bachchhan Pandey’s prowess at violence-as-means-to-an-end, while spraying crass dialogues amongst his henchmen: the stutter of Buffer (Sanjay Mishra) is a character arc; another is called Bhirgin, aka Virgin (Prateik Babbar) because he hasn’t had a kill under his belt. Yep, you heard that right too.
I could go on, but I will desist. Because this was too much pain, with zero gain. It’s only in the dying watches in the second half, when it switches its tone to gangstacom and Pankaj Tripathi shows up as a Gujarati acting teacher, completely over the top but funny all the same, that it becomes bearable. Akshay’s always good at not taking himself seriously, and just this little portion saves the film from total perdition.
Bachchhan Paandey movie cast: Akshay Kumar, Arshad Warsi, Kriti Sanon, Abhimanyu Singh, Prateik Babbar, Sanjay Mishra, Jacqueline Fernandez, Seema Biswas
Bachchhan Paandey movie director: Farhad Samji
Bachchhan Paandey movie rating: 1 star