Dear Bollywood, What’s Going On?

From Brahmastra’s “Isha mera button hai” to the anti-heroine in Freddy whose boyfriend seems to be glued to her neck, here are film moments that were so weird, they were awesome
Dear Bollywood, What’s Going On?

There are moments in Bollywood films that you can never forget — not because they’re infused with poetry or awakening parts of your emotional self that you didn’t even know you had until you watched that film, but because they turn nonsense into an art form. Undoubtedly, the patron saints of this are Abbas-Mustan (try to think of anything that matches the sheer awesomeness of a car dropping out of a burning plane and sauntering downwards with the aid of two gigantic parachutes. We’ll wait). Nothing from this year’s releases matches that level of genius, but there were enough moments that made us wonder, “WTF”. Here’s a selection.  

Brahmastra: Don’t just push buttons; be a button instead 

“Meri powers ka ek button hai. Woh abhi off hai, usse on sirf saccha pyaar kar sakta hai aur woh button hai Isha. Isha mera button hai (There’s a button for my powers, and they can only be turned on by true love. That button is Isha. Isha is my button),” says Ranbir Kapoor’s Shiva in Brahmastra Part One: Shiva (2022). First of all, Shiva feels a little bit like Jaadu from Koi Mil Gaya (2003), who needed “Dhoop” (sunlight) to activate his supernatural powers. More importantly, it’s one thing to say the woman you love pushes your buttons — which, incidentally, is not a good thing — but to say that she is, in fact, a button? Brahmastra’s dialogues are dangerously close to the so-bad-it’s-good territory, and this one is a winner.

Bhediya: When ifs and butts collide 

At one point in Bhediya, Bhaskar (Varun Dhawan) dangles himself from a tree, trying to lure a werewolf into biting him. This is expected to eliminate his lycanthropic tendencies. If you think that made no sense, hold your howls in. He goes on to wear cricket pads all over his body, leaving only his bottom exposed. Why? Because that’s where the werewolf bit him the first time. No one bothers with questioning the logic of this and weird as it is, we’re happy to go along with this. If a man wants someone to bite his ass twice, who are we to question this? 

Thank God: Who needs Stockholm syndrome when you have Rakul Preet Singh?

When Ayaan (Sidharth Malhotra) has a car accident, his soul is stuck in purgatory, forced to play games with Yamdoot and “CG” or Chitragupt (Ajay Devgn). These games reveal Ayaan’s true personality to himself and so far, we’ve shown more intelligence summarising the plot of Thank God than the film does in its entirety. Here’s one of the more mystifying games. Ayaan botches up a hostage situation and then he is shown how his wife (Rakul Preet Singh) once handled the same situation. Step one: She reduces the criminal to tears. Step two: She over-empathises with said criminal and informs all present that the criminal’s son is hospitalised because “uske dil main chhed hai” (he has a hole in his heart, that old Bollywood favourite). Step three: The hostages handing over bundles of cash to the man who had just terrorised them. 

RRR: Why go to the zoo when the zoo can come to you? 

It’s colonial India. The British are spawns of Satan, swanning around the country in their furs and evening dresses, and throwing parties at their colonial bungalows. Faced with many soldiers and tight security, what does the rebellious adivasi leader Bheem (NT Rama Rao Jr) do when he has to charge into one of those parties? He gatecrashes said party with an entire zoo. Previously in the film, we were shown different characters lugging gigantic cuts of meat. It turns out that all this was in aid of the big cats that were being kept in secret while Bheem and his people were plotting how to rescue a little girl who has been kept captive by the British. So when it’s finally time to attack, Bheem, the big cats and a whole range of animals leap out of the back of a truck. Apart from the sheer chutzpah of such a concept, the scene is rendered fantastically — the growling truck, speeding in tandem to the urgent beat in the soundtrack; Bheem’s grand leap in slow-mo, surrounded by the beasts; a gory fight scene with men and animals. Does it make sense? No. But does it work? Absolutely. 

Double XL: One part, Kapil Dev; one part, Slash; all parts, awesome  

Saira Khanna (Sonakshi Sinha) is an upcoming fashion designer whom no one knows of, but she gets commissioned to do a travel show in the United Kingdom. Halfway into shooting that show, she decides she’s going to instead shoot a promotional video for her as-yet-unlaunched label. This is just the beginning of the awful nonsense  that is Double XL. However, in the middle of all this is a cameo that distracts you from everything that the film gets wrong about women, body positivity, storytelling and life in general. Rajshri’s (Huma Qureshi) dream is to interview the cricket legend Kapil Dev. After a set of entirely unbelievable twists and turns, she finds herself in a hotel lobby and who should be walking up to her, but Kapil Dev himself. Kapil Dev with long hair that’s bouncing as though it’s auditioning for a Sunsilk shampoo commercial; accompanied by a guitar riff as though trapped inside him is the spirit of Slash from the rock band Guns ‘n’ Roses. It’s completely ridiculous, but at least it’s entertaining (which is more than can be said of the rest of Double XL). 

Ram Setu: If Buzz Lightyear and Baymax had a baby 

Akshay Kumar’s second-last release of the year — he may have only a cameo in An Action Hero, but it’s his best performance — saw him play a desi Indiana Jones who goes deep-sea diving to figure out if there’s proof to suggest the events of the Ramayana are historical facts. The only problem is that it’s hard to pass off as a cool dude when you’re lumbering around in a contraption that looks like the love child of Buzz Lightyear and Baymax. As if that wasn’t enough, the suit is on a leash so when Kumar is off collecting his samples underwater, it’s almost like he’s a pet puppy who’s being taken out for a walk. 

Ek Villain Returns: Disha Patani puts a whole new spin to ‘dream girl’ 

The sequel to Ek Villain is a land-mine of WTF moments, thanks to mottos like “Dying is better than losing”, a scene where a woman is assaulted and harassed for impressing another woman, and the key role played by a tiger named Hero (who deserves their own movie). However — SPOILER ALERT — the cherry on Ek Villain Returns’s cake is the reveal that Rasika (Disha Patani), who we were told is pushing bechara Bhairav (John Abraham) to commit acts of terrible violence, was actually a hallucination. The woman of his dreams is somewhat literally that. For practically the entire duration of the film, Bhairav has been imagining Rasika. This has included decidedly awkward moments, like when the film’s other hero Gautam (Arjun Kapoor) spots Bhairav hugging thin air. We’ll leave you to figure out what was actually happening in the scene when Rasika joined Bhairav for a shower in their slaughterhouse-love shack. 

Freddy: Love is a pain in the neck. Literally. 

In a time when everything seems to offend everyone, it’s a miracle that no Parsi has filed a complaint against Freddy for making a caricature of the community. The Parsis of Freddy are a collection of clichés whose quirks and eccentricities — from raspberry soda to a love for Western classical music — are dialled up to 11. Perhaps the one who gets the most raw deal is Raymond Nariman (Karan A. Pandit), the man for whom Freddy (Kartik Aaryan) is rejected by his lady love. Pandit struts around, flexing all possible muscles, and speaks English with a strange accent in order to sound Parsi. Most odd, however, is the way he goes for Kainaaz’s (Alaya F) neck as a display of amorous ardour. Every time they’re in a scene together, Raymond is attached to her neck, like a demented vampire. It’s like he’s her arm candy, but on the neck (neck candy?). Perhaps Raymond is supposed to suggest to us that love is a pain in the neck. Or maybe Pandit went for the neck in the hope that this would mean no one would see his face and thus protect him from the ignominy of being recognised as Alaya F’s neck candy in Freddy.   

Dahan: Peeing is believing 

Throughout cinema history, filmmakers have crafted ingenious ways to incorporate and unlock puzzle pieces in their films. Take Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, which begins with a puzzle box that’s inspired by musical fugues. If Glass Onion sits on one end of the spectrum, Dahan: Raakan Ka Rahasya squats on the other. The show is a horror thriller that is meant to be steeped in mystery and initially, it gets the eeriness perfectly. But then things fall apart. At one point, a gang of teenagers discover an ancient map that holds the key to a rare substance. After racking their brains, one of them suggests – in complete seriousness – that perhaps they should all simultaneously pee on the map. Four corners each, four jets of urine and mind-bogglingly, the map shimmers and unlocks. Perhaps the real mystery of Dahan is how this brilliance ever passed the writers’ room. 

Heropanti 2: Sounds like …?

It’s fair to say Heropanti 2 is a large plot hole with some film in it. There are multiple WTF moments to choose from, like actual dialogues in the film that go, “MC, BC” but mean “Main chali, bye cutie”. Or the scene in which Tiger Shroff’s Bablu is attacked by multiple assassins with spears that helpfully shred his T-shirt to reveal his sculpted chest, but fail to injure him in any way. However, our favourite bit has to be the song “DaFa Kar”. Composed by – wait for it – A. R. Rahman, the song repeats the phrase “dafa kar”, but particularly at the start of the song, the phrase is said in a way that makes it sound like… actually, why don’t you just say “DaFa Kar” out loud? Let us not ruin that epiphany for you. If you’re looking for clues in the song’s video, don’t. With bottles being smashed on skeletons and back-up dancers dressed as chained zombies, there’s very little about the song that makes sense.  

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