Rajeev Masand’s Review of Baadshaho

An armored truck transporting ridiculous quantities of gold must be captured by a quartet of amateurs hiding out in the desert in Baadshaho.

Not a bad idea on paper. It’s been a while since Bollywood did a good heist film. But Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai and The Dirty Picture director Milan Luthria, working from a pathetic script that appears to have been written on the go, delivers an overlong clunker that’s neither thrilling nor fresh.

Unfolding in the mid 70s during the Emergency, the film’s plot is set into motion when a character deliberately modeled after Sanjay Gandhi (yes, I kid you not!) decides to go after a Maharani’s wealth when she rebuffs his advances. It’s hard to tell why the film takes this potshot at the late Congress leader other than the fact that in the current political climate, one can. As for why the 70s setting in the first place…well, perhaps because someone remembered that Milan Luthria made two hit films set in the past. Honestly it’s as random as that.

But I’m digressing. The film’s a slog because it takes more than an hour to get to the heist. And because every central character gets an introduction and an entry, when you’d much rather they just got to the action.

Ajay Devgan, Emran Hashmi, Esha Gupta, and Sanjay Mishra make up the team that plots to run the truck off its course as a favour to Rajasthani royal Ileana D’cruz whose gold is being confiscated. Vidyut Jamwal is the army officer protecting the vehicle. There’s a jailbreak, there are shootouts, there are betrayals, and there are twists you can spot from a distance.

But the film left me scratching my head pondering questions to which I could find no answers. For one, the disruptors decide to melt all the precious gold that’s been packed away in multiple boxes in order to transport them more conveniently. So what do they melt these precious coins and treasure into? Gold pellets, which, as it turns out, also require to be packed away and transported in multiple containers. So what was the point in melting the gold in the first place?

The howlers don’t end here. In one scene, the Maharani aka Ileana, insulted by a farmer for being out of touch with the people’s problems, grabs a plough and starts to dig right there in her heels and her chiffon, to show that she cares. I promise, I’m not making this stuff up. But the film’s most unintentionally hilarious scene is Vidyut Jamwal’s entry, who for no good reason whatsoever, appears on screen, sitting naked in a train compartment. Somebody tell me, why does he have no clothes on in a train?

I’m afraid it’s hard to review Baadshaho with any seriousness because it’s a laughable effort. The action is strictly serviceable, and the actors are in autopilot mode. Emraan Hashmi’s playing the lothario lout again, and Ajay Devgan simmers and stares intensely as he tends to do. The women are strictly ornamental, and Vidyut Jamwal sports a moustache that looks more like a caterpillar. Only Sanjay Mishra gets a few good lines that inspire a few good laughs.

What’s particularly disappointing about this film is that even the dialogue has a recycled feel to it, although it’s the work of Rajat Arora who has powered many a mediocre film with his clap-trap lines. 15 years ago Baadshaho might not have been an awful film, but today it feels sexist, formulaic and completely outdated. It’s a waste of both time and money. I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five.

Rating: 1.5 / 5

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