Never heard a filmmaker say ‘Anyone can direct’ in the vein of Chef Gusteau’s ‘Anyone can cook’ belief. There’s a reason why. Watching Kick, which marks producer Sajid Nadiadwala’s debut as director, explains it with brutal honesty.
Its star, soul and the reason why anyone should care at all — Salman Khan has salvaged many a juvenile plots, which appear as though they’ve been put together on autopilot. Moreover, the sleek trailer of Kick deceives one into believing this could be an engaging, big-scale follow-up to an Ek Tha Tiger.
Except in this remake of another Telugu film of the same name and a wannabe mishmash of Krrish 3, Dhoom 3, Don 2, Salman is expected to fulfil too many roles at once – the sharpness its birdbrained script lacks, the drama its expensive action cannot conjure, the hilarity its flat as fettuccine jokes do not possess.
Punctuating the screen with his superstardom, occasionally referencing it too (lest we forget) with nods to Dabangg, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega and Being Human comes naturally to Bhai. But he’s not a Nawazuddin Siddiqui who can instinctively pick the frivolous tone of Kick and snowball his underwritten loony character into a delightfully idiosyncratic fiend armed with a ‘Tock’ and asthmatic laughter. I certainly wish there was more of him and his quirky run-ins with Salman.
Instead what we get is a feeble backstory of how Jacqueline Fernandez, a desi Dr Chase Meridian falls for a 10-year-old nutcase Devi. Nah, she’s neither a paedophile nor a lesbian. Devi Lal Singh is Salman’s name and since he was born on February 29, which falls every four years, he’s still ten.
This, ladies and gentleman, is actually quite amusing compared to what follows. According to Desi Meridian, what makes Devi exceptional is his obsession for kicks –engaging in ridiculous activities for adrenalin rush. Why doesn’t she challenge him to sweep all of Delhi instead? Sanitised city, sane mind, no? No. Kick depends on his stupid fixation to justify its existence.
My suspended disbelief crumbles through the drinking/doping session between Devi and his dad (Mithun Chakraborty dressed like a cross between a truck driver and a snake charmer) and then mom (Archana Puran Singh, a loudspeaker could play her part) feeding him a glass of milk to a disturbing sound of Alle le le les. This is not cheesy, crazy or fun. It’s what-the-hell-just-happened.
Jacqueline is some psychiatrist. In place of running away from such a weirdo far, far away, she breaks into a dream sequence — shot like those kitschy nineties Sonu Nigam pop music videos — about her brawny, smug hero who roughs up rowdy guys in cafes, doesn’t want to do anything for a living but has enough pocket money to gulp down a 100 shots every night? With that one move Jacqueline just unlocked a new level of Bollywood’s dumb brunettes. Still, the girl looks terrific in her snazzy wardrobe and Gucci sunglasses.
With her flashback taking so much time, potential groom and police officer Randeep Hooda (holds up nicely till he’s playing drunk) hastily narrates his version of Salman now going by the moniker of Devil wearing a mask that looks like a middle-schooler’s invention. Devil is an ace robber and whiz kid devising gadgets we’re familiar from Dhoom 2 and Jeans. He can also ride a bike, bicycle and drive a double decker in Poland. But it’s all for a cause and kick.
After a snoozy first half, Kick stirs from slumber to unleash the spectacle it teased with its promo. And as much as Ayananka Bose tries to perk up the scenes with his crisp, whitewashed frames, the action isn’t nearly smart enough to enthuse. Merely shooting a film in a fancy European locale or smashing a few cars and CGI choppers doesn’t amount to action, there has to be a certain amount of finesse, audacity, cunning and strategy to it all. As glimpses, it may stand out but as an action set piece, I found the execution absolutely flat.
Nadiadwala may have the monies to sponsor the action but not the acumen to generate it. To think he employs four screenplay writers (Rajat Aroraa Chetan Bhagat, Keith Gomes) including him to concoct this senseless mess where scenes just cut off and begin randomly never bothering to explain what happened. One moment he’s shot and floating under water. Next, he’s dancing to Vishwatma chartbuster, Saat Samundar Paar in a country bar? This is too daft even for a Salman movie. (Oh, but it IS fun to watch him do a Divya Bharti.)
With Rajat Aroraa (Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, The Dirty Picture) at the helm of dialoguebaazi, I was hoping for something campier than “OMG, my cat mujhi pe attack.” On the other hand, it’s scenes like the one where Nawaz, about to deliver a seemingly mega villainesque line decides against it and simply directs, “Arre yaar…maaro isse” or unconsciously plays pop-the-bubble wrap from the same sheet he used to kill a man seconds ago — that steal the scene.
Kick is most enjoyable in its last 25-30 minutes. And mostly because of an antagonist who delivers the hammiest performance of his career with a relish that outlines the appeal of Prem Chopra, Amrish Purish and Ranjeet. As for its devilish hero, Kick is undecided about whether it wants to add anti on his resume. So while he conveniently blows off cars and planes (ghosts drove/flew them, right?) and damages public property, he’s also a large-hearted philanthropist, the proverbial Robin Hood, a human being who’s just being human.
Sorry Salman, but I am unsubscribing.
This review was first published on rediff.com.