Film: Bhaiaji Superhit
Director: Neerraj Pathak
Cast: Sunny Deol, Preity Zinta, Arshad Warsi, Shreyas Talpade
Rating: 2 stars
Bhaiaji Superhit opens thick. Sunny Deol swaggers into a song — a market signboard behind him aptly reads ‘Antique Shop’ — as rounds of bullets go off in his honour. We see him knock out wrestlers in a cloud of dust, and bash in a brickwall for standing in his way. He also bashes in heads of hoodlums, making use of a tender coconut as his boxing-gear. A Raftaar rap cuts in, pegging the action-hero as the ‘Don of UP’, a ‘gamcha’-slinging gangster who is hard on the outside, soft inside.
Bhaiaji, or 3D (Devi Dayal Dubey), is always surrounded by henchmen singing his praise — one of whom is played by Brijendra Kala, a bona fide actor who infuses even his most slapstick appearances with a sharp, pointed conviction, comical eyebrows perked in perpetual punchline. This film too, like Bhaiaji’s henchmen, is an outrageous and shameless suck-up, pandering devotedly to Sunny Deol’s onscreen mythology while invariably tearing it apart for laughs, a bawdy fan-film that only mocks the fans.
Directed by Neerraj Pathak, this is a comedy about a gangster who wants his estranged wife back — just so she can go back to pressing his feet — and gets schemed into making a movie to woo her over. Pathak, in his excitement, miscalculates meta-humour as a framing device. His film-within-a-film concept doesn’t take off, precisely because there’s no telling apart reel from real, as endless goof-ups snuff out any real sense of goof.
Instead, we get Arshad Warsi unsubtly avenging his Munna Bhai ousting by playing a Raju Hirani-type: a successful director named Goldie Kapoor whose last three films have done a business of 1000 crores, and who gets whisked away from Mumbai to Varanasi to direct the Bhaiaji biopic and expectedly whitewash him on screen. (There’s a weird callback to the famous ‘dead body’ scene from Munna Bhai MBBS, as a real corpse shows up on Goldie’s film set).
We also get Shreyas Talpade as Bengali screenwriter Tarun ‘Porno’ Ghosh — a senile and floridly dressed caricature who says ‘dada’ all too often and wears a tatoo that reads ‘Ghatak’ (as in the film, not the auteur). Preity Zinta feigns a comeback as Bhaiaji’s insecure wife Sapna, making a mess of her stick-on Bhojpuri and mangled English, threatening a character with acid attack then simpering about it.
Films like Bhaiaji Superhit were once considered senseless fun. Today, they bear the shuddering foretaste of a zombie apocalypse, one where out-of-wind actors raise the undead of their past glories and come rushing towards the audience, desperate for one last bite. To multiply the dread, this one casts Deol in a double role, and both get to romance an antiquated Amisha Patel, who plays a vamp inescapably named ‘Mallika’. At one point Jackky Bhagnani is mentioned — in a joke lining him up with Jackie Shroff and Jackie Chan — and even the thought of a potential crossover starring all three draws less sighs than this one.
The action, although not the mainfare, seems especially tacky. Shoddy VFX is employed in stunts that could have easily been managed live, something as simple as SUVs blowing up or sparks flying off a welding machine. Bhaiaji is approached by a group of war widows to reclaim a piece of encroached land, and he confronts the film’s villain, Helicopter Mishra, about this. Mishra laughs him off, making Bhaiaji click his retractable pen in anger, setting off a series of explosions that brings down Mishra’s ‘700 crore ka project’. Right then — by the wrath of the three-eyed lord — dark storm clouds gather in the sky and threaten to burst. It’s a fleeting, insignificant moment but hey, at least it alters the colour pallete. A film this Sunny sure needeth some rain.