Ajay Devgn Ileana D'Cruz

The experience of watching Milan Luthria’s Baadshaho in a half-empty suburban Mumbai multiplex is peculiar by itself. Here’s one film made for the B & C centres – complete with a super hit romantic number, beautiful heroines, a sleazy Sunny Leone dance number, plenty of desi action besides Emraan Hashmi spouting a local dialect. I could sense the presence of potential single screen viewers who totally wanted to hoot at every penny drop moment. One of them almost did, only to be stared at. Somehow the venue wasn’t right and the film probably was. Truly, Baadshaho represents the kind of dated cinema that works for its target group in the heartlands while serving as gold standard guilty pleasure material for urban millennials.

Unintentionally funny is one thing but Baadshaho’s not-so-subtle premise set in 1975 is plain amusing. There is a Sanjay Gandhi prototype (Priyanshu Chatterjee) making unsuccessful advances on a rich, young queen Gitanjali (Ileana D’Cruz). The man makes a logical question on the ridiculously placed bed in her palace and she snaps at him. Foreign-educated, the queen talks with an adorable English twang and wears jumpsuits to a funeral – establishing how unaware she is to the rules of the land. Unable to make an impact on her prajas, the lady makes a futile suicide attempt, only to be saved by her good Samaritan bodyguard Bhawani (Ajay Devgn). The man soon tutors her on a handful of things – from ways of dictatorial politics in rural India to a complete sartorial metamorphosis. He owes a note of gratitude for the latter as D’Cruz is a true vision in those flowing chiffon sarees and exquisite jewellery. Besides that, we observe the emotional Gitanjali transform into a cold woman whose face shows no change in contours as her bungalow gets dismantled in pretence of a search warrant. Some kind of strength, I must say.

Designed as a heist film, Baadshaho is in for a lot of word vomit – in trademark Rajat Aroraa style. To a team of three members (Hashmi, Devgn and Sanjay Mishra), we suddenly see a female entrant – Sanjana (Esha Gupta) – whose sole purpose is to be present as a woman in weird retro outfits and attractive tanned makeup. The world around her turns upside down and Gupta’s wardrobe, hair and makeup stay flawless. Soon she develops bizarre and out-of-the-blue feelings for Hashmi, resulting in a bunch of cheesy, cardboard heroine dialogues. We also spot Gitanjali clad in the very same sheer yellow saree for weeks in the prison. Her impeccable lips and soft, bouncy curls make us leave a massive sigh – every single time. Basic Ileana D’Cruz things, I assume.

To be honest, it is pointless to try making sense out of Baadshaho and its hilarious course of events. Still, they ought to be asked for sanity’s sake. Was Gitanjali a femme fatale? What was her outburst at the unhappy countrywoman all about? Why was Seher (Vidyut Jammwal) seen in nothing but undies in a train coupe? What’s with Dalia (Hashmi) and Tikla (Mishra) risking their lives for no apparent reason other than – ahem – friendship? Can’t a Sanjay Gandhi equivalent have better motives during the Emergency than physically harassing and looting attractive heiresses? What about Ajay Devgn’s perennially bored expression trying hard to pass off as brooding? Who was the man in the aircraft? How could they squeeze gold ornaments like Milkmaid cream overnight? What’s with the very contemporary lingo as ‘call karegi’ in a film set in 1975? What were the makers and actors smoking as they filmed the final 15 minutes? Last but not the least, why can’t we have Sunny Leone in a bigger role opposite the Hashmis and Devgns of Bollywood?

No more inferences from Baadshaho that is a standard prototype of those unintentionally funny Hindi films that we ought to watch on TV with our gang and few pitchers of beer. Then again, I am sure there are takers for content as outdated as this. Amen to them!

Rating: ★ 1/2