Friday, May 7, 2010

Badmaash Company

Director: Parmeet Sethi
Starring: Shahid Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Vir Das, Meiyang Chang and Anupam Kher
Rating: **1/2

In times of economic uncertainty such as ours, it can be tough to sympathise with a tale about a wonder-kid swindler. On occasions, your heart goes out to those who are getting cheated and unfairly bearing the brunt. Hence, Badmaash Company --- about a bunch of youngsters who carry out mini-scams to get instantly rich - would have been a rather difficult film to enjoy were it to be set in contemporary times. Its theme and treatment also qualify it to be nothing more than an average film. But what gives this Parmeet Sethi directed film some edge is the year it is set in.
The story takes place in 1994 - a significant period in our times when one had started to experience numerous changes. The post-liberalisation years brought about a great shake-up in the old, established order, opening up a whole new world of exciting opportunities. It is this era of 'aspirational India' that is evoked in Badmaash Company.

Karan (Shahid Kapoor), is unhappy with his present and wants to get rich quickly. He finds it impossible to live by the ideals of his middle-class father (Anupam Kher). So along with his friends, Zing (Chang), Bulbul (Anushka Sharma) and Chandu (Vir Das), he starts out by smuggling items for a Custom store owner. But soon enough, he comes up with his own con ideas, where he gets imports Reebok shoes - a prized commodity in those days -- and makes his money by successfully evading the huge custom duty each time. But with the watershed Finance budget, where the then FM Manmohan Singh slashes all custom charges, Karan's business plan gets derailed. The gang then moves to the US and carry out some more scams, till trouble begins.

The film's attempt to chronicle a time in recent history is refreshing, and the con jobs keep you interested. The soundtrack, especially Jaska Jaska and the background music are catchy, and the pace is good. It's not a patch on the frolicsome Bunty aur Babli, but Badmaash Company is not without its charm.

However, the film goes downhill after a perky first half, and settles to become a tired, cliched tale about redemption. It slips into predictable zones and for a con film, that can be a heavy let-down. Scenes where Shahid turns arrogant and loses his temper are all a bit artificially set up to show his subsequent down-fall. His relationship with Anushka is unconvincing and abrupt.

Besides, even though Sethi loves bringing in several period details, there's not much to distinguish his characters as youngsters of the 90s - neither in their appearance nor attitude. Yes, Anushka wears accessories that were peculiar in the 90s ('Raveena earrings and floral ribbons). But that's about it.

Among the performances, Vir Das, as the incorrigible flirt who turns out to be a loyal, loving man, is excellent. Chang is alright, with not much scope to perform. Anushka Sharma's pudgy nose and Punjabi accent which served her well for a film like Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi does not go too well with her hip character here. Shahid Kapoor looks good and delivers a confidence performance.

Parmeet Sethi makes a fair debut as director. He has style and flair in his story-telling and keeps his narrative fluid. But as writer he is inconsistent. The ending is simplistic and the film is disappointingly unambitious. Yet, not a bad effort for a first-timer.
In the film, Shahid says a successful venture sustains on great ideas. Badmaash Company sadly runs out of it mid-way.


Anonymous Akshay Shah said...

Ace review Sandy-thanks! Will leave this for DVD..reminds me a lot of 99 meets BUNTY AUR BABLI..



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