Some days writing about a movie is just too easy: case in point “Besharam” (Shameless), the new ‘proud-to-be-lafanga’ movie from Bollywood staring Ranbir Kapoor in an avatar of what is perceived to be a ‘grand’ selling point these days – vulgarity.
But here’s the thing – the movie, written and directed by Abhinav Kashyap (“Dabangg”), “Besharam” gets cold feet as it ventures near Besharmi. Instead of pushing its luck (and the taste of the audience who find “Grand Masti” revolting), the movie tries the PG-13 route with crude humor from a heart-of-gold hero who’s satisfied with thrusting hips and jockeying far better known fares from Bollywood.
The tactic loses interest – if there were any in the first place.
“Besharam” has Mr. Kapoor as Bubli, a wiz car-thief who nicks a red Mercedes Benz without knowing that it belongs to the zesty girl-next-door he fancies. That would be Tara, played by Pallavi Sharda, whose character initially wants a life partner who can give her fame, not notoriety. Her car, which now lies in the possession of Bheem Singh (Javed Jaffri, effortless and apt), functions as an excuse to get Mr. Kappor and Ms. Sharda on the road, do a song or two (one on the road, the other on city sidewalks and street side food joints).
By now the duo reach the story’s other forcefully inserted story-track: the villain’s stacks of “hawala” money, they unknowingly made off with. This bit, along with another forced entry – Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh as a pair of married police officers in a love-hate relationship – doesn’t click, much like everything else. But then again, there’s nothing appalling about “Besharam” either.
It is apparent that Mr. Kashyap wanted a slickly made conventional blockbuster, and therefore relies on a mixture of tired and inflexible elements the audience is known to respond to. Songs by Lalit Pandit are lighthearted, Mr. Kapoor – who reminds us ad-infinitum that he’s Besharam – is up to scratch, and Ms. Sharda is beautiful and adept. Still, the whole exercise has an air of mediocrity.
For starters I couldn’t understand the necessity of the elder Kapoor duo in the screenplay. They appear as a bookend, with, maybe, two scenes in the middle (one where Mr. Kapoor is in the lavatory is simply loutish). And then there’s the Bollywood jeering I talked about earlier – from “Dilwale Dulhaniya La Jayengay” (twice lampooned) to “Gadar” (Rishi Kapoor screams a tornado ala Sunny Deol), of course, “Dabangg” (the elder Mr. Kapoor is named ‘Chulbul’), right down to the “Mr. India” like orphanage where Bubli grew up – these insertions feel as if the film is desperate or insecure on its own.
If Mr. Kashyap would have concentrated on keeping “Besharam” original, then it would have been a far better enterprise. Right here, right now, it’s kinda lame, but not despicable or detestable as the title suggests.
Released by Reliance Entertainment.
Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Pallavi Sharda, Javed Jaffri, Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Hemani Shivpuri and Amitosh Nagpal.
Directed by Abhinav Kashyap; Produced by Himanshu Mehra, Sanjeev Gupta; Screenplay by Mr. Kashyap, with a story by Mr. Kashyap and Rajeev Barnwal; With Cinematography by Madhu Vannier; Editing by Pranav Dhiwar and Music by Lalit Pandit.
“Besharam” is rated U/A for some crude humor you think is mandatory for the relevance of the title.