Remember Amar and Prem’s encounter in Sevaram’s queer guesthouse wherein they grab and smother each other pretending to hug it out till the latter is reminded of Ramanand Sagar’s Bharat-Ram reunion episode?
Believe it or not but that’s exactly what I was thinking of while watching the final showdown between Akshay Kumar and Sidharth Malhotra inside a fighting cage in Brothers. I love Andaz Apna Apna to bits but this NOT A COMPLIMENT.
A MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) combat that sparks off hilarity, how absurd can it be? A lot, my dear readers, A LOT.
In Brothers, Akshay and Sidharth — sporting mouthguard, boxing trunks and gristly beards et al, are strangulating one other while holding a mini mumbling conversation.
“Tum kitne feffish ho!” (You’re so selfish!).
“I’m foffy Monty.” (I am sorry, Monty.)
They may be the ones rolling on the floor but the audience is the one left laughing through this cheesy schlock about sparring siblings that is Karan Malhotra’s official remake of the underrated 2011 Hollywood family/sports drama, Warrior.
Tom Hardy’s — a champion actor on all occasions — shoes are too big to fill. And so the makers split bits of his characterization into both the leading men of Brothers. In this bargain, Malhotra’s Monty ends up looking like a bungling bonehead, a grungy Moose with no more than vacant scowls and scruff to offer.
In yet another tiring example of Bollywood’s Basanti-fixation, Malhotra deviates quite a bit from the original – meaning: overstuff a simple family story about strained ties into a nearly three-hour long cacophonous music video.
The first half is a series of contrived flashbacks playing out like recycled Richard Marx music videos. One to establish Akshay Kumar’s quickie courtship of Jacqueline Fernandez, K Jo-brand middle-class marital bliss and sick child complication, the other to explain Jackie Shroff’s muddled past — alcoholism, infidelity, love child — around a glycerine-armed Shefali Shah.
And all of it is marked in such zealous, glaring displays of Christian symbolism – crucifixes, churches, Jesus tattoos, sign of the cross, Bible, prayers, choirs, coffins, it could put Finding Fanny to shame. Even the girl (a repetitive Kareena Kapoor) in its item number, she’s Mary not Munni mind you, dare not disturb its religious thread.
I would brave the glut, Kiran Kumar in purple suits and rhinestone brooches, frames bursting with deadpan actors and tacky dialogues (Fighter ki want uski jeet ka formula hoti hai), juvenile TV debates over the ethical issues surrounding MMA, yet another fighter named Luca (there was one in the so much better Apne) and Jackie Shroff’s exuberant hamming, if it would lead to something coherent.
Almost nothing happens in the first one and a half hour except a dreary, dragging assertion of how miserable these people are – people Malhotra wants us to care about by hammering our eardrums with Ajay-Atul’s blaring background score that’s almost threatening us to feel, feel something, anything.
I did feel like one of those MMA fighters “Shaolin I-forget-the-rest-of-his-name” at one point. But things didn’t end too well for him. Neither do they for this writer who likes a good fight when she sees one.
But lacklustre, strategy-devoid bam bam, where the camera is more concerned with Rocky-replicas gnashing their teeth and glowering through busted eyeballs, is such a let down after enduring torturous degrees of schmaltz in hope of better.
If they were so hell-bent on changing the script, Brothers should’ve picked the flamboyant, over-the-top WWF in place of MMA. It’s more in sync with Malhotra’s masala aesthetics and the memory of Akshay Kumar taking on The Undertaker in Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi still delights.
What you get is an earnest Khiladi sporting his graceful greys in a movie that’s too cosmetic, loud and exhausting to take notice.