You know those heart-charts they have in hospitals, the ones that trace a person’s heartbeat up and down in waves? Bol Bachchan (BB) reminds you often of one of those. Rohit Shetty’s latest movie has a constant up-and-down aspect to it, one sequence making you shriek in your seat with laughter, another sending your mind wandering off to the mundane. But at the very heart of things – Shetty’s madly in love with the movies and BB is his homage to that all-time classic, Golmaal.
In Shetty’s version, Abbas Ali (Bachchan) is desperate for work after he and his sister Sania (Asin) lose their parental home. A family friend Shashtri (Asrani) brings them from Delhi-6 to the feudal village of Ranakpur where Prithvijit Raghuvanshi (Devgn) is the lord of all he surveys. Blessed with two obsessions – speaking nothing but the truth and hysteria-inducing English – Prithvi is super-impressed by Abbas, even swallowing his story of being called ‘Abhishek Bachchan’ when events lead to Abbas breaking open a temple door. As Prithvi insists on employing ‘Abhishek’, Shastri’s son Ravi (Krushna, positively sparkling as he reprises Deven Verma’s role in all this golmaal) adds more wheels to Abbas’s clattering spin, creating a Muslim twin brother and a super-pious mother to convince Prithvi of Abhishek’s propah antecedents. With the mother played by small-time mujra star Zohra Bai (Archana Puran Singh in a loud, colourful role she carries off with the swagger of a satin sharara), and Abbas playing a highly effeminate kathak teacher, hired by Prithvi to teach his petulant sister Radhika (Desai) some dance, things only get funnier.
Devgn’s at the top of his form here, mouthing lines like ‘Hard work is the keyhole to saxophone’ and ‘Boy in armpit, hyper-noise pollution in city’, meaning bagal mein chora, etc., with deadpan face and shining eyes. Bachchan sags at the start but sizzles with later hilarity, even pulling off a crazy dance sequence to Dola Re. You wish there’d been more of his mad antics but instead, the camera spends considerable time lingering lovingly on Devgn’s cleavage as he drives a jeep, pulverizes liars and takes on his weasly cousin.
In contrast to the male leads, the two heroines look pretty but bring little more than a wardrobe of delectable kurtis to the film. In fact, the stellar supporting stars – Asrani, Krushna, Puran Singh and Neeraj Vora as Prithvi’s suspicious sidekick Makhan – bring far more zest to the party. With its hilarious moments and film-buff touches – bits of Singham imagery, Bachchan channeling some of that Yuva aggression his way, references from Deewar to Dostana – BB’s fun and games. But it’s way too long and diverts you needlessly with that wicked cousin angle, a power plant that doesn’t progress out of paper, an odd double-role for Asin, jokes overloading on the cheese at times and music that is surprisingly unmemorable.
On the plus side, BB’s a dialogue-lover’s delight – lines like ‘fish and chips without water’, Devgn conveying the situation of a ‘jal bin machli‘ – sparkle across the plot and you can feel the love as the actors reprise bits and bobs of vintage Bollywood. On the downside, it exceeds by about 30 minutes and has that odd, uneven heart-chart quality accompanying the film. But that aside, BB showcases Shetty as the maharaja of madness, Devgn clearly his crown prince. And Abhishek? His judwa bhai, of course.
Abbas wants a job, Prithvi wants an honest man. But Abbas spins a tale of twin brothers and multiple mothers – what happens when Prithvi discovers his vivid truth and lies?