Monday, September 5, 2011

Bodyguard: Whistle Whistle Flex Flex

As per usual, a new Salman Khan film brings a new round of media personalities and critics wagging their tongues about why people are turning out in droves. This week, they don’t understand why people are flocking to see Bodyguard despite the fact that critics thought it was dumb. Was it the timely release following a month of flops? Was it fans trying to support Salman Khan, who is in hospital? Here is my take, which I haven’t really seen represented in Bollywood op-ed circuit: People turned out to see the film because it’s massively entertaining. Bodyguard is an old fashioned paisa vasool film, packed full of revenge drama, family melodrama, romance, comedy, dishoom-dishoom, toe-tapping tunes, and Katrina Kaif’s bare midriff. Come on, critics, where is the confusion? Don’t you like things that are awesome?

Directed by Siddique, Bodyguard is a remake of his 2010 Malayalam film, although I’m not sure how close the remake stays to the original. Salman Khan stars as Lovely Singh, a bodyguard assigned to protect Divya (Kareena Kapoor), the daughter of minor royal. Divya, unaware of any real threat to her safety, is embarrassed beyond belief to have a bodyguard and tries to get rid of him by crank calling him. And Lovely, whose father gave up his own life in service of Divya’s father, has to fight both bad guys and his feelings for the mysterious lady on the other end of the phone.

[He's, like, so uncoo~ool, man!]

I haven’t seen Salman playing a character as guileless as Lovely Singh in a while. Lovely isn’t cool and he’s not street smart. He’s basically the opposite of Salman’s “Love Doctor” character in Partner. Lovely has no use for sarcasm and a girlfriend is out of the realm of possibility because it would involve talking to girls, something (possibly the only thing) he is no good at. So, of course, the only thing that could possibly upset the balance of Lovely’s well-ordered life is clever, mischevious, big-hearted Divya.

Unusually for a hero-driven film like Bodyguard, Divya is not only the driver for a lot of the action taking place, she’s also an interesting character on her own. Bebo plays Divya perfectly as a girl who isn’t spoiled per se but is a) used to getting her own way and b) really sheltered. Divya is so sheltered, in fact, that she doesn’t even believe that she needs a bodyguard. And it’s not until she wakes up to this fact and sees Lovely in action that Divya comes to understand how good a man Lovely really is.

[Nobody else does this like Bebo!]

The film is structured around the Divya-Lovely story line, with the first half involving Divya falling for Lovely despite herself and the second half dealing with the fallout of her feelings.Now, there is nobody in Bollywood who can throw a stink eye better than Kareena Kapoor and Bodyguard makes fine use of this talent. The first half is packed full of Bebo comically glaring at everything Lovely Singh does – like wearing his uniform to her college, waking her up at 4am to go jogging, and essentially just existing in her space. And in the second half we get Kareena and Salman stirring up some wonderful chemistry and making the audience’s collective heart ache with all the unrequited feelings flying around.

Along with the wonderful romance at the center of the film, Bodyguard also provides plenty of other things… like Salman’s shirt flying open at an opportune moment. (I cheered.) The comedy is not only unpolitically correct but also deliciously (and literally) broad – fat guy falls down and the camera shakes broad. (This happened.) The fat guy is Rajat Rawail aka Tsunami and he’s a good sport for providing us laughs by doing things like dressing in drag and dancing around. I also really enjoyed the little person who played Diyva’s friend and who made up for his small stature with large wise cracks.

There wasn’t too much villainy going on in Bodyguard but all the fight sequences were fun and the guys cast as the villains were really menacing. I especially enjoyed Aditya Pancholi’s entrance, which takes place at a funeral - it’s raining, everybody is in white, and as Aditya enters the screen, this evil music swells up sending chills down your spine. Actually, all the incidental music was really effective. Kudos to Sandeep Shirodkar, who really contributed a lot to the film. Whenever I heard that “Bodyguard” guitar wail, I got really pumped up.

I also have to mention the costumes, especially on Bebo and Hazel Keech, which were really delightful. And Himesh Reshemmiya’s soundtrack was a lot of fun.

To wrap it all up, Bodyguard is a really fun film but I do understand why certain folks didn’t enjoy it that much. Besides the gleefully unsophisticated humor, there is a very strong dose of Asian-style melodramatic plot shenanigans, which not everybody enjoys, especially viewers who prefer a more subdued Western fare. And the plotting is more concerned with emotional catharsis than making logical sense, which, again, could frustrate viewers who prefer a more Western approach to story telling. Bodyguard aims for the heart, not the mind, and (at least for Filmi Girl) it hits the target dead center.

To really wrap it all up:*flex flex* *whistle whistle* *guitar wail*


Margaret said...

Kareena's pretty clothes were worth the price of admission alone. And on top of that you get so much fan service!

Amit said...

Such a tease of a review - you mention Katrina's midriff in the introduction, but then provide no details later on. ;)

Turkish Bacon said...

Yeah....I think I'm one of those folks that just might not "get" Salman's latest crop of films. I must admit that the only reason I saw this one was because Kareena was in it. I enjoyed Singham which I think is in the same vein as Sallu's recent films, I just didn't really enjoy this. I enjoyed the second half of the film much more than the first if that's saying much. I liked the turn the story took there and what it allowed both leads to play with. I think some of the "jokes" went on waaaay too long in the pre-interval portion. Anyway, on to important things! Manish Malhotra really kitted Kareena out, so she did look fab the entire time. Salman did look good and that was the most ingenious way I've ever seen to lose a shirt ( I laughed so hard, I also choked!). It was ok, but I think Sallu's new batch of films just don't work for me.

theBollywoodFan said...

Bodyguard aims for the heart, not the mind, and (at least for Filmi Girl) it hits the target dead center.

This does it for me, too. It's simple and fun, and it's difficult not to like the presentation and the innocence.

I also really enjoyed that action sequence you mention, at the club and during which Kareena wakes up to Salman's goodness. That bit where she thinks he's hugging her of love, before realizing someone's trying to stab her, is just SO all about what Bollywood is all about. Loved it!

(Laura) said...

I think the, a "timely release following a month of flops" theory is very accurate... But I totally enjoyed it - particularly seeing it opening weekend. I frequently go to see Bollywood movies by myself and often I am the only one in the theater. So being in a decently full house was fun. Especially since the Indian women in attendance literally WHOOPED when Salman flexed his muscles to the beat of the music during the first song. That was worth the price of admission alone.

Filmi Girl said...

@Margaret It's true!! I would purchase any outfit that Kareena was wearing in this film. So well done... She should collaborate with Manish to launch the "Divya Collection."

@Amit LOL!!! I made a gif and posted it today. She was looking fantastic. I'm so happy that Salman prefers his ladies with a little jiggle to them.

@Turkish Bacon I knew that the humor wouldn't agree with everybody. My taste in comedy is very broad but I know plenty of people who fast forward through comedy scenes I love! It's completely a matter of taste. :)

@thebollywoodfan My friend and I literally went 'squee' at that point. ;)))

@Laura Heh. I have a feeling that is part of it, too. And I feel your excitement at having a full house! It does make a difference to have people laughing and cheering with you.

Moimeme said...

What's this about Bodyguard coming after a "month of flops"? July has been celebrated as a record setting month of four consecutive hits, two of which, at least, were still going strong till Bodyguard's release (Singham & ZNDB).

Filmi Girl said...

@moimeme I was talking about August... ;)

Moimeme said...

@Filmi Girl, I realize you were talking about August, but the "hits" of July didn't disappear in August! They kept right on hitting! Both Singham & ZNMD are still in theaters & collected about 2 cr each after Bodyguard released. So I disagree that Bodyguard was benefiting from a dry period in films.

Filmi Girl said...

OH!!!! Okay, I get you... and that is an excellent point. :)

Anonymous said...

I went to watch it last night (yay for London!) and really enjoyed it. We cheered too during the "hose so powerful it opens Salman's shirt" scene.
It was really good entertainment.

Anonymous said...

Yay, I saw this in Delhi and loved the experience so much. Well, you may have read my write-up. I am so happy you liked it as well!

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