When back in 2008, Rohit Shetty’s ‘Sunday’ pulled off an ingenious spoof on Bollywood’s quintessential pseudo-versatile-genius, people might have had a genuine laugh or two. Little did they know that while Arshad Warsi was caustically speaking about his partner, Irrfan Khan’s acting prowess as the music director who produces his own film, directs it on his own, provides music to it and acts in it; Himesh Reshammiya might actually have been eavesdropping. And perhaps the result of that overheard conversation is this gigantic pain in the neck called ‘Khiladi 786’.
Manshukh Desai (Himesh Reshammiya – need I say more?!) is a wedding planner, an aide in his father’s business. Just that all he can do is break up marriages with his incompetence or some gaffe or the other. So when one such wedding falls apart, Desai is kicked out of his home. Hitting the streets with a bottle of desi liquor and trying to re-enact a Devdas might be anybody’s forte but Himesh’s – the man makes sure of that with his forced acting. Enter Indu Tendulkar (Asin), the girl who nobody wants to enter wedlock with: reason – she’s TT’s (Mithun Chakraborty) sister. Tantiya Tukaram Tendulkar’s abbreviated name is enough to leave people in tatters. An underworld don, this man can just not be imprisoned.
And then there’s the Khiladi. The Punjab-da-puttar Bahattar Singh – 72 Singh as he’s better known as (Inane? You bet.) – Akshay Kumar in garish, loud kurtas knocking off the teeth and smashing the noses of every other bad guy in the village. One might go to the extent of mistaking him for the Robin Hood in uniform. Yes, he plays a cop here as well – seemingly so. From 71 to 75, all the males in the Singh family have their names firmly perched on a number. Khiladi Bhaiya hits people, loots trucks, keeps a considerable amount of the booty to himself and distributes the rest among the people.
Mansukh decides to get Indu and Bahattar hitched, and looks upon it as the wedding that would prove him as a man in front of his father. However, there are cock-and-bull stories to be concocted on the way and brash, rowdy people to be gotten rid of. Oh and there’s Indu’s gunda boyfriend too to be taken care of. Somewhere along the way, Khiladi Bhaiya’s philanthropy gets buried under layers of hallucinations involving him romancing Indu in some foreign land or singing sad songs, also in some foreign land. The Punjab da Puttar is careful about his imaginations: there are red Ferraris and exotic locales involved, always.
Himesh Reshammiya’s story zigzags through concealment of identities, servants trying to bring their employer’s empire down, and a wedding planner hoping that his endeavour doesn’t go in vain. But honestly, he could just have not bothered to go ahead with this waste of talent, money, and whatnot.
That Akshay Kumar as an actor is an exceptionally talented one has been proved time and again – given the man has a decent story to perform in. Not this one, though. The genre of action is the Khiladi’s forte, goes without saying; however, when it remains in the realm of the real. One single man taking on more than 200 goons and flattening them single-handedly – come on, haven’t we had too much of that already? When Akshay Kumar isn’t beating people up or thinking about Asin, which – by the way – hardly happens, he isn’t bad. Asin’s Marathi mulgi act is overshadowed by her tomboyish side; but when faced by solid patriarchy in the form of her brother, she hardly has anything to do. Her acting is good, but not one that deserves a standing ovation. Mithun plays off the stereotypical elder-brother-worried-about-sister’s-wedding well.
As far as Himesh Reshammiya’s talent (he’s the producer, storywriter, music director, singer and actor in the film) is considered – we might need to do an entire thesis on why does this man try and burn a little of his fingers everywhere! The old adage ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ might be able to do some justice to the fellow – hopefully.
The music of the film, by Himesh (yet again!) ranges from un-listenable to cringe-inducing songs. Numbers like ‘Hookah Bar’, ‘Fire Brigade’ and the like – absurd as they might appear – are catchy, and will definitely do a good job of staying on the music charts for some time. The other songs will hopefully be forgotten the way so many others are; and cheers to that!
Watch the film if you swear by Akshay Kumar. If you don’t, you’d be ill-advised to go into the theatres.