Director: Milan Luthria
Cast: Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Ileana D’Cruz, Sanjai Mishra, Esha Gupta
Here are the things that stayed with me after watching Baadshaho – firstly, Ileana D’Cruz’s gorgeous saris and jewels. She plays the foreign-returned princess of a small principality in Rajasthan. Even when she’s in jail, the Maharani wears chiffons and exquisite jadaau necklaces. I have to say it’s a good prison look.
Secondly the visual of Sunny Leone in a barrel. She arrives for the requisite item number, which also serves as the introduction for Dalia, played by Emraan Hashmi. We don’t know why he’s called porridge but he is apparently a fierce lover or as the song puts it, legendary aashiq thehre hum. Dalia wears T-shirts that say Night Special and Free Love. He also drinks alcohol from a small matka.
Thirdly, the visual of Vidyut Jammwal in undies smoking. There is absolutely no reason for us to see him naked except to admire his granite body. He plays Seher Singh, an army man whose job it is to cart gold from the Maharani’s palace to a corrupt government leader modeled on Sanjay Gandhi. By the way, Sanjay Gandhi seems to be having a moment in Hindi cinema. After Indu Sarkar, this is the second film in which a version of him appears. But we were talking about Vidyut. This is an actor whose career is based on his physicality. In an interview, he said that when he watched his movie Commando, he said to himself, ‘Wow, what a body, Vidyut Jammwal.’ So I wondered if the body shot is part of the contract when he signs a film.
Yes, Baadshaho is the sort of film where you have plenty of time to ponder the peripherals. Director Milan Luthria is back to the era he seems to love best – the 1970s. He creates a heist movie against the backdrop of the Emergency. The princess’s bodyguard Bhawani Singh and his crew have to steal a truck of gold, which the government is seizing because the princess rejected the politician’s advances. At a party, the politician insists that she show him the bed and then says, akeli princess kya karegi iss bed par.
As you can imagine, there is plenty of unintentional comedy here. Later in the film, crates of gold are melted like ice cream. Esha Gupta shooting up a storm in perfectly styled hair and singularly inappropriate clothes for a heist will also make you smile. But Milan has a talent for old-school dialogue-baazi. So none of the characters have a regular conversation – it’s all metaphors or proclamations. Bhawani keeps saying: chaar din ki zindagi hai aur aaj chautha din hai and Main hamesha kahani badalta hoon. I wish he had changed this story.
If you are willing to buy into the ridiculous premise, the first half has moments of fun but in the second, Baadshaho becomes like a flat comic book. The loud background music starts to bore holes in your brain. Even Ileana’s saris stop doing the trick. Though I did enjoy watching her as the petulant princess. And Ajay does perfectly well as her rock – he keeps a signature, I’m-too-cool-to-care expression on his face through the film. Even when he’s making love or being tortured.
The stark Rajasthani landscapes are also stunning. The rest of Baadshaho – not so much.