Given the fact that Salman Khan’s fans will pay money to watch a three-hour home video of the actor taking a nap, how you wish he’d exercise his influence and popularity to get good movies made. Bodyguard, his latest, is another lazy remake (of a Malayalam film) that banks squarely on the actor’s considerable charm to make up for its archaic plot, sluggish pace, and puerile humor.
When a wealthy zamindar learns that bad guys are after his daughter so they can settle scores with him, he seeks professional protection for her. Luckily for him, Lovely Singh is available, having just completed an assignment protecting movie star Katrina Kaif from over-enthusiastic fans at a live concert. Salman Khan, of course, stars as Lovely Singh, an earnest and brave bodyguard who wears permanently tight clothes and shades, a Bluetooth headset clipped to his ear. Don’t be fooled by his delicate name; Lovely Singh has rock-hard abs, and he can overpower a dozen baddies at once. Divya (played by Kareena Kapoor) is the young lady he’s been hired to protect, and Lovely takes his job seriously. Tired of being followed around everywhere, including the ladies loo, Divya hatches a harebrained plan that involves disguising her voice and calling him up repeatedly as an anonymous admirer so he becomes too preoccupied to keep an eye on her.
Since recent hits like Wanted, Dabangg and Ready have reiterated the futility of applying logic to Salman Khan starrers, we’ll overlook even gaping plot holes in the name of ‘mindless entertainment’. But Bodyguard suffers from that most fatal flaw that’s unforgivable in the final reckoning – it’s boring! Montage after montage of Lovely Singh becoming smitten by his anonymous caller will drive you up the wall. Ready may have been a far lazier and offensive film, but lethargic pace wasn’t one of its problems.
Much of the reason for the film feeling slow has to do with its unduly stretched comic track involving a cretinous, over-weight oaf named Tsunami Singh (played by Rajat Rawail), whose crude misadventures include entering a girls campus dressed in drag, where he’s beaten and virtually stripped. Director Siddique gives this supporting character way too much screen time although the gags are painfully stupid. There are other jokes too – at the expense of fat people, a midget, and a gay student, but I suppose it’s no point bringing those up, seeing that they’ve become staple in Bollywood comedies.
More engaging in comparison are the film’s stylishly shot action scenes, which nevertheless feel like they’ve been cobbled together from the bits that didn’t make it into Wanted and Dabangg. In one fight sequence that feels way too familiar, Salman’s shirt rips off his back when a gushing water pipe is aimed at him. Still, there’s some pleasure to be had watching him swing from one train into another, or sprint on the roof of a speeding train, or uproot a tree trunk in the middle of a fight to whack an opponent in the face. Despite its outdated script (that channels Kuch Kuch Hota Hai in its final act) and little scope for establishing burning chemistry between its leads, it’s stray moments like these, in addition to a few romantic scenes in which Salman reveals his charming, goofy side, that are the best bits in Bodyguard. The film’s foot-tapping music definitely works in its favor, and the sight of Salman’s biceps bouncing to the beats of a track is worthy of a wolf-whistle at the least.
I’m going with two out of five for director Siddique’s Bodyguard. No question it’s going to make a lot of money at the box-office, but you have to be a die-hard fan to forgive this film its many flaws. The rest must resign themselves to the fact that there’s truth in that dialogue Aditya Pancholi’s character says about our hero in the film: “Iska time accha chal raha hai.”