A genre not aped widely in India, Dishoom revives the buddy cop film. Here are its ten precedents
Promoting Dishoom, John Abraham said earlier this month, “After a long time, you will see a buddy cop film like Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys.” The comparison also hints at a formula. There really are just two ingredients that are needed to make a buddy copy film – you need a cop who is proper and a little prissy. And to balance that priggishness, you require an outlandish nonconformist with a devil-may-care attitude. Film critic Roger Ebert had given this kind of film an interesting moniker. He called them the ‘wunza’ movies because when you review these films, you almost always start by saying that ‘one’s a’ humourless officer, the other a rake. The friction that results from a clash of personalities is cause for tension and humour. So here are 10 films Dishoom may well remind you of.
Lethal Weapon wasn’t just a film whose success launched three sequels. It also inspired dozens of buddy cop films that came after it. Robert Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is saddled with Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson). Half suicidal and wholly unpredictable, Riggs makes for an impossible partner. Over four films, they bust drug smugglers, investigate robberies and solve murders, but the franchise only earns its charm when Gibson plays the perfect maverick and Glover steps in as their only conscience.
There’s much about Vishwatma that remains memorable. ‘Saat Samundar Paar’ is a cult classic and it’s not easy to forget villainous names such as Ajgar Jurrat (Amrish Puri) and Tapasvi Gunjal (Gulshan Grover). But with Chunky Pandey playing Akash Bhardwaj and with Sunny Deol as Prabhat Singh, we saw a convict team up with a strait-laced police offer to take down the Kenya-based ‘Blue Panther’ gang. Naseeruddin Shah tried his best to keep the two in check, but their daredevilry was infectious.
PACKING THAT PUNCH
MAIN KHILADI TU ANARI
If left to Karan Joglekar (Akshay Kumar), Main Khiladi Tu Anari would have been a simple tale of vengeance. Towards the start of the film, the inspector’s upright brother Arjun (Mukesh Khanna) is killed by Goli (Shakti Kapoor). The angst was perhaps inevitable. But Saif Ali Khan brings to the table a humour that is adorably rakish. Playing Deepak Kumar, an actor with a mid-career crisis, Khan becomes Kumar’s understudy. He first kisses ass, but eventually they do team up to kick some butt.
Though derided by some critics for being too formulaic, it would be fair to say that Bad Boys has defined the buddy cop genre for children of the 90s. Marcus Bernett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) are detectives in Miami Police’s narcotics division, and after heroin worth a hundred million dollars is stolen from a vault, there’s only one question that movie repeatedly asks its thieves – “Bad boys, bad boys. Whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”
Rush Hour had sequels written across it from the start. As Detective James Carter, Chris Tucker exaggerated his every gesture. You just couldn’t help but laugh out loud. He bumbled his way in and out of trouble, but for solving transcontinental crime, he needed the helping (and frighteningly swift) hands of Detective Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan). Even though some things might be lost in translation at the start, Rush Hour is a funny bromance that is soft in the heart and rather eccentric in the head.
STARSKY AND HUTCH
When its studio was promoting Starsky and Hutch, they came up with a line that is too apt to not repeat. David Starsky (Ben Stiller) did everything by the book. Detective Ken Hutchinson (Owen Wilson) never even read it. Adapting a 1970s TV show, the film had everything you could ask for – laughs, an odd couple and Snoop Dogg. While taking down the drug kingpin Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn), Hutch has to show a convict his navel. Starsky humiliates himself in a dance off. Together, they maul a golf course.
The Dhoom franchise has really been all about its antagonists – how adept they are riding bikes, perfecting disguises and breaking safes. But at its heart, Dhoom relies on the same formula that makes all buddy cop films work. Playing ACP Jai Dixit, Abhisek Bachchan is humourless and earnest enough to be unduly stern at times. Ali Akbar Fateh Khan (Uday Chopra) comes in as a thief with that heart of gold. It’s just that this heart is then thrown around easily as he and Jai work to defeat crime.
Writers Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are said to have watched over a hundred action films when coming up with the script for Hot Fuzz. Many of these are referenced by Nick Frost, who plays Police Constable Danny Butterman. Pegg is Sergeant Nicholas Angel, who gets transferred from London to the sleepy village of Sanford where even the most brutal of murders is dismissed as an accident. Funnier than the many buddy cop films Danny cites, Hot Fuzz always leaves you rolling on the floor.
21 JUMP STREET
Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) finds it hard to do his sit-ups, but aces every test. Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) might fail the police academy, but he sure knows how to do his crunches. Though their friendship affords a convenience, their brotherhood is also one that is genuine and rib-tickling. The two police officers go undercover as high school students, and instead of busting a drug racket, this duo strangely seems to take great pleasure in getting high. They were together 2012’s Jai and Veeru.
FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) – she is a little too efficient and desperately needs to lighten up. Officer Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) has an antidote to her stiff upper lip. She is foul mouthed and at most times, a riot. Mullins plays Russian roulette with a man’s testicles at one point, and some of this unorthodoxy fast rubs off on Ashburn. The film is not just radical because its protagonists are women. It brings a new kind of funny that the buddy cop genre was sorely missing.