Directed by: Siddique
Starring: Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Mahesh Manjrekar, Raj Babbar, Aditya Pancholi
WARNING: Contains spoilers so if you don’t want to know what happens, please revisit after seeing the film!
At first, I wasn’t going to review Bodyguard. After all, there are only so many ways you can say how Salman smashed it in Dabaang and phoned it in with Ready and how Bodyguard was going to use up even more of the inexhaustible supply of goodwill Salman seems to have when it comes to his films. But with the film breaking records at the domestic box office and even making waves in the UK, I couldn’t let the film pass so easily. Although I knew it wouldn’t be a film for posterity (which it isn’t), I am always up for good old masala fare whose sole purpose is to entertain and then entertain some more.
The story (in a nutshell) revolves around Lovely Singh (Khan), who is assigned to protect Divya (Kapoor) from evil goons who have a score to settle with her father. But Divya, unaware her life is under threat, doesn’t want a bodyguard and plays a practical joke that has deeper consequences than she would ever have imagined – to say anything else would spoil everything!
I have to say Bodyguard was not as bad as the negative feedback made it out to be. The film is very entertaining, has a kick ass soundtrack (which I have not been able to stop listening to) and excellent cinematography which threw me at times (in a good way as the framing of certain shots added to the texture and ambience of the film). Also, I loved the use of Karisma Kapoor’s voice as Chayya which was a smarter in-joke than most of the crazy verbal duels. But unfortunately, Bodyguard is no masterpiece either. The film suffers the perennial identity crisis of pitching itself as a love story but trying to get action and the Salman Khan one-man show into the mix and ending up collapsing under the weight of it all.
This is a shame as there is a good film fighting to get out of Bodyguard. It did feel like the editing was too judicious as there were a few major points that could have done with an attempt of explanation (such as the enmity between the gangsters and Divya’s father) and I wish the script had aimed to strike a balance between a love story and an action entertainer like Ghajini managed to do or emulate Singham and put the love story as a sub-plot to focus on the action (although in this case, it would be vice versa.). Styling wise, everybody was blown in submission to Manish Malhotra’s salwar kameez/kurtas/saris show which made Kareena Kapoor look stunning. I loved the saris featured in the Teri Meri Prem Kahani song and the colour palette used for her wardrobe in general as well as the accessories with some amazing jewellery of the non-bling variety. The only bum note for me were the see-through Patiala salwars which I don’t think work on camera or off it.
Performance wise, the cast throw themselves head first into proceedings and give Bodyguard an amazing energy which seems to power the film forward, steam rolling over any questions/plot holes/continuity errors. Salman has a lot of fun as Lovely Singh and does a good job as the lead, certainly inspiring confidence in the viewer that he would make a good bodyguard. I also liked how he tried to play the role totally straight and was able to tap into different levels of intensity but ultimately kept switching back to crowd pleasing tactics due to the demands of the script. Similarly, Kareena has a wealth of talent waiting to be exploited but we only skim the surface of what she has to offer, though she does do a good job of acting as the emotional core of the film and I liked how she more than held her own against Salman and even took charge at some points. Raj Babbar, Mahesh Manjrekar and Aditya Pancholi all collect their paychecks with dignity intact and like the leads, infuse their parts with a substance that is not given to them by the script.
Despite its shortcomings, I actually liked Bodyguard better than Ready but it was nowhere near the standard of Dabaang. It would be a step in the wrong direction if these action entertainers (which have effectively filled the vacuum left behind by mindless comedies) go down the road of using star power and high production values to mask a weak script. And though the audiences are lapping it up (as evidenced by the amazing first week collections) it could quickly become something that viewers get fed up with and even lead to a premature burn out for the genre as was the case with mindless comedies.
But I digress – Bodyguard is entertaining and the kind of film that is best watched in a packed cinema full of rowdy types or on DVD at a family get-together or on telecast when there is nothing else to watch. Do give it a go if you get the chance but as for going out of your way? For Salman fans, it’s a no brainer and for the rest of us, it’s a no brainer… make of that what you will!