Cast: Riteish Deshmukh, Vivek Oberoi, Vikram Thapa, Bhuvan Arora, Sahid Vaid
Bank Chor is relatively watchable for the first forty minutes. This is when it doesn’t pretend to be more than a spoofy, self-aware “social media” movie – replete with Twitter-meme-level humour, goofy religious stereotypes, Mumbai-versus-Delhi throwaway lines, and not a semblance of a real plot. City cops (“Pandus, not thullas”) arrive in a van chomping Vada Pavs in sync. A ditzy Bengali reporter (Rhea Chakraborty) calls Arnab Goswami her idol (“Argo”) while humming Ekla Cholo Re in tense situations. Lokhandwala and Juhu Circle references are thrown around smugly. And so on.
All that matters here is that Riteish Deshmukh plays a swacch Maharashtrian robber named Champak, while his two bumbling North Indian accomplices hail from Faridabad and Ghaziabad. Plenty of easy fodder for the many multicultural writers of the film to get drunk in a room, tap into their roots, and record all their choicest of “regional” debates. If this were a low-budget Hollywood caper, there would be a handpicked assortment of representational hostages – African American, Latin American, Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern and perhaps a geeky Englishman who thinks he is James Bond.
This is when it doesn’t pretend to be more than a spoofy, self-aware “social media” movie – replete with Twitter-meme-level humour, goofy religious stereotypes, Mumbai-versus-Delhi throwaway lines, and not a semblance of a real plot.
Champak and his two stooges hold hostages in the unimaginatively titled ‘Bank of Indians,’ and take forward YRF’s famed penchant for institutional aversion (system-creates-criminals and all that) and villainous banking systems (Dhoom 3 being the most notorious example). This portion seesaws between inside-joke parody (Baba Sehgal’s self-depreciatory cameo) and awkward-kid-trying-too-hard dialogues, with even Vivek Oberoi (a stiff CBI officer named Amjad Khan) doing his best Suniel-Shetty-meets-Sharad-Saxena impersonation.
And then, I stopped caring. The film stops trying to be harmless. Politicians, ministers, power play, sabotage, inane twists and new villains are introduced. The writers begin to think they’re smarter than us. We begin to think they’re dumber than us. They probably discover a DVD of Now You See Me in Aditya Chopra’s secret library. I’m painfully aware that no branded Bollywood comedy can ever just be an all-out laugh riot. This almost never happens. There is invariably this greedy need to cram all kinds of purported ‘family’ entertainment into one flimsy storyline. Suddenly, you wonder why you should take the idiots on screen seriously.
Somehow the makers always feel the need to give their material an unnecessarily emotional crux, a mutant genre of which Deshmukh has made a career out of. While Oberoi continues to needlessly wait outside the building (no doubt a metaphor for his acting career) and twirl his macho Ashutosh-Rana-inspired moustache, the events indoors resemble the confused interiors of my poor stomach on a hungry Friday morning.
By the second hour, it’s impossible to be invested enough to figure out who is doing what and why the hell promising actors like Naveen Kaushik continue to be wasted in thankless bit roles. Spoiler Alert: nothing makes sense anymore. Even if nothing is supposed to, there needed to be a certain energy, maybe an irreverent texture, to the incoherence that unfolds. Instead, what we see is an ill-conceived and annoyingly comfortable product torn between old-school masala and new-age slickness. Unfortunately for the director, every writer seems to have had a say in this overly crowded heist of nothingness. All I could think of during the “serious” parts was the face of an aggressive Virat Kohli in Sunday’s upcoming final, repeatedly uttering the title of this film on the field.
Watch the trailer here: