Cast: Dharmendra, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Katrina Kaif, Shilpa Shetty
Director: Anil Sharma Genre: Drama
Storyline: A champion boxer banned on doping charges swears to make his son a world champ only to find him unwilling.
Bottomline: Three for the price of one!
Anil Sharma’s recent films haven’t been about a plot, they’ve been tales spun around excuses to let Sunny Paaji swear endlessly in Punjabi and plant his ‘dhai’ (two and a half) kilo fist on the bad guy’s face every few minutes.
I’ve always been a fan of this kind of cinema simply because I get my kicks with a wholesome dose of laughs.
The funniest Hindi film I’ve seen till date (funniest Indian film ever would have to be T.R.’s ‘Veerasamy’) is Anil Sharma’s previous collaboration with Sunny Deol – The Hero, the love story of a spy – the most expensive film ever made, that had him sporting over a dozen clever disguises, most of them involving a mere change of sunglasses.
‘The Hero’ was a movie that made me go ahead and watch even Sunny’s serious attempts at comedy like ‘Jo Bole So Nihaal’ where he proclaims “No If, No But, Sirf Jat.”
Hence, with Apne’s three-for-the-price-of-one Jat unique selling proposition staring at my face from the posters, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Not to let me down, it was one of those good old Sunny Paaji films. And a super emotional one at that.
As a prize bonus, there’s Deol Junior.
Bobby is girly (to the extent that one is inclined to pun his name with an unprintable nick) and he’s better off not removing his shirt because when he does that, it’s not a scene. It’s obscene. Those slow motion shots only make it worse in otherwise brilliantly staged and shot boxing sequences. (Since this is a blog and not the version that made it to print, I think I can say I was unable to sleep traumatised by memories (mammaries rather) of Booby Deol’s KNOCKs OUT after being repeatedly being punched there in slow mos, this chest wobbling like a milk packet…)
What I didn’t bargain for, however, was Dharmendra’s powerhouse performance and a half-decent script buried in all that sentimentality and name-calling. The film belongs to the veteran. In that scene where he pleads to his protégé to let him continue coaching him, your heart goes out to the under-rated actor.
If the script seems this half-decent (the support characters are all effectively fleshed out) even after being ravaged by Anil Sharma and Sunny Deol, it surely must’ve been a winner had it been treated by a better director. Not that this doesn’t work; It does for a different kind of audience. The one that made ‘Gadar’ an embarrassingly huge super-duper hit.
Sunny, as a friend noticed, clearly eats ham for breakfast, lunch and dinner and to expect refinement out of him is plain unfair. Here he has to worry about monumental, never-ending bad hair days that make him look like he’s wearing one of those hideous wigs – or maybe it’s one of those disguises from The Hero.
To his credit, in ‘Apne,’ he actually saves up/postpones the trademark hot-bloodedness to the last Act when he finally explodes – the moment we Sunny fans had been waiting for.
So much that Garam Dharam, who in the film plays a sincere tribute to Rocky Baldeva, a well-etched out character obsessed with boxing and coaching, gives in to the moment and says: “Uda do saale ko.”
Suddenly, the excitement in the halls is infectious. Near euphoric.
Now, this is the kind of a moment where a filmmaker with a sensibility different from Sharma’s would’ve used to let the Dad step in as the coach subtly giving him the killer boxing tip that would help the hero deliver the knock out punch. And there I was half-expecting a tip like what Rocky Balboa got: “To beat this guy, you need speed – you don’t have it… So, what we’ll be calling on is good ol’ fashion blunt force trauma. Horsepower. Heavy-duty, cast-iron, pile-driving punches that will have to hurt so much they’ll rattle his ancestors. Every time you hit him with a shot, it’s gotta feel like he tried kissing the express train. Yeah! Let’s start building some hurtin’ bombs!”
“Uda do saale ko,” indeed.
Forget the rural-urban sensibility disconnect, here’s good old Indian cinema for you in all its glory.