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Bell Bottom review: This action-thriller falls flat

Last Updated : 19 August 2021, 17:53 IST
Last Updated : 19 August 2021, 17:53 IST

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Bell Bottom

Hindi (theatres)

Director: Ranjit Tiwari

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Adil Hussain, Lara Dutta, Huma Qureshi

Rating: 2/5

Akshay Kumar’s latest escapade is extra large in every sense of the word.

To begin with, his bell-bottoms not only grace the floor but also sweep it clean as if in support of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan while his thick mustache looks more like the handiwork of a landscape expert rather than that of a lowly-paid make-up artist.

The bottom line is - 'Bell Bottom' falls flat, literally and right in front of your face, even in 2D. The same sight in 3D, well we leave it to your imagination.

'Bell Bottom' is yet another release based on or inspired by ‘true events’. The plot revolves around a couple of plane hijackings in the 80s and the role of a RAW agent (Akshay with the code name Bell Bottom) in saving the lives of over 200 hostages.

The first-half is stretched in revealing the RAW agent’s ‘personal investment’ (his mother dies in the first hijacking) in undertaking the ‘first of its kind’ mission (a covert operation on a foreign land) which makes up most of the second-half.

If the first-half is painstakingly slow and clumsy the second is mostly patchy and pedestrian, hardly getting the pulse racing, unlike a couple of recent films in the same genre.

'Neerja', for example, was a gripping drama encompassing the plight of the hostages, the helplessness of the aircraft crew and the hard line path of the hijackers.

'Airlift', in which Akshay himself played a real-life hero with common sense and compassion in equal measure, was a successful attempt in bringing to life another ‘true story’ by strictly sticking to facts and constantly stoking the emotional ambers. The result was an inspiring film made with a human touch.

'Bell Bottom', by contrast, almost trivializes some truly touching incidents in the name of ‘fictionalizing’. The film is overtly high on action no doubt, but abysmally low on emotion. And it begins and ends on a flimsy note – the elaborate make-up jobs and the agonizingly extended climax scenes standing out more for its artificiality rather than authenticity, including the sand storm segment towards the end.

Take Lara Dutta’s prosthetic make-up for instance. The nose job hardly justifies the labour involved as it looks more like the front portion of the now out-of-operation Concorde super jet rather than that of the late prime minister Indira Gandhi. As a result, a pivotal character in the film is reduced to a caricature.

There are many other factors that ruin what could have been a racy hijack-cum-hostage-cum-espionage thriller. The chief culprit are the writer duo Aseem Arrora and Parveen Sheikh and the director Ranjit Tiwari, who seem singularly fixated on focusing on Akshay, and Akshay alone.

As a result, the central plot gets lost in a melee of mindless action-driven scenes while the rest of the ensemble has hardly anything to do. Vaani Kapoor as Akshay’s wife gets a few close-up shots and a song while Huma Qureshi enters too late donning a smart uniform and enacting a hand-to-hand combat scene with Akshay.

The dialogues too are over the top and the talented (but wasted) Adil Hussain, as Akshay’s boss, gets to deliver a catchy line when he compares the RAW to the backside of a dog, done in his characteristic deadpan expression.

Akshay at best gets to murmur a line oozing with typically self deprecating desi humour. “Kehne ke tho main India kha James Bond hoon, lekhin kudh petrol barna padtha hain (I’m India’s James Bond, so to say. But I have to fill petrol myself)."

The only definite plus point of the film is the commendable work of the technical crew which on its own, merits a full star. Rajeev Rai, behind the camera, is in top form, be it up in the skies or down at ground level. Daniel B Goerge’s background score tries desperately to heighten the tension and succeeds in patches.

Zain Khan Durrani’s subtle performance (remember his Kuchh Beega Alfaaz?) as the main villain is another minor high point.

For Akshay, it is just another day in office as he once again proves he is the fittest man in Bollywood; and the safest bet at the box office, if the initial advance booking figures on the net is anything to go by. But for the paying public, 'Bell Bottom' is not a befitting return gift as big budget Bollywood films return to the big screen.

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Published 19 August 2021, 17:51 IST

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