Film: Besharam

Director: Abhinav Kashyap

Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh, Pallavi Sharda

Jagran Rating: 

The Ranbir –starrer film, which will also see his parents Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh and newcomer Pallavi Sharda in the lead roles, has hit the theatres yesterday (October 2). In the coming weeks, the film will be a litmus test for both Ranbir after superhit "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani" and Kashyap post "Dabangg". With no other big films releasing this Friday, "Besharam" has a clean week as far as competition goes.

The film, produced by Himanshu Mehra, Sanjeev Gupta and Reliance Entertainment, had a shooting budget of Rs 60 crore plus the cost of promotions, marketing and advertising.  "We have locked about 3,600 screens in India and 700 screens overseas," said the director.

Story line: Babli (Ranbir Kapoor) is a street smart car mechanic living in a Delhi orphanage. He is charming and lives life to the fullest. He also steals cars to support his orphanage. He has no sense of right or wrong till he unwittingly hurts the love of his life, Tara (Pallavi Sharda). Babli realizes that there is no right way of doing the wrong thing. Babli sets out to fix all the wrongs in his life and he continues to be shameless about it.

Review: The number of times Ranbir, that simmering restless bundle of unstoppable talent, calls himself 'besharam' (shameless) in this movie is not funny. And with good reason, one might add.

The plot is evidently written as a back-handed homage to the 1980s and 90s cinema of outlandish logistics where coincidences covered up for the lack of a sound sense in the script, and every actor screamed his or her dialogues to conceal the embarrassment of doing stuff that no one with an iota of intelligence would attempt.

But even the logistics of the cinema of the absurd had a rhythm of its own. "Besharam", however, is devoid of rhythm, sur or taal. It's shot like an ongoing television sitcom where the actors are clueless about which way the intended laughter would take them. Everyone in the movie, from the redoubtable Rishi Kapoor to the gifted-in-her-own-right Himani Shivpuri, is in it just for fun.

Director Abhinav Kashyap's debut in Dabangg gave a new language to the Hindi commercial cinema. The language of cocky hero-giri. But then, "Dabangg" featured Salman Khan who does not need to act to impress audiences. He does not even try.  Ranbir Kapoor in "Besharam" goes the other way. Every scene in the film is an "acting" moment. Ranbir does the equivalent of a very accomplished gymnast who must impress the sports council that he is qualified for the next Olympics. The director obviously thinks very highly of Ranbir's talents. So do we. But does that mean he must attack every scene like an audition? There is a desperation in the narration hidden out of our view, but discernible nonetheless. A desperation to project the protagonist as infinitely wacky. Cynical disregard for basic decency is meant to be cool in this film. In the endeavour to imbue Ranbir's car-thief character with a sense of mischievous artlessness, the narration becomes woefully heavy-handed. The tone adopted is that of a conversation between two reputed stand-up comedians who are out to prove they can convey the seriousness of existence even while maintaining the jokey tone.

Everyone, barring the villain Javed Jaffrey, is given funny lines. They speak it with twinkle-eyed pleasure that, alas, is lost somewhere as it makes its way from the screen to the audience. There are passages of excruciatingly gauche writing where the actors run around in circles, trying to be cute replicas of characters from the movies in the 1990s.

Among these aimless drifters in the province of the potboiler are Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, playing a corrupt quarrelsome Haryanvi cop couple. Their roles seem to start with the firm resolve that their real-life relation to the hero would be kept completely out of bounds. But then, as the script progresses, real-life references like "Tum toh meri maa samaan ho" ("You're like my mother") and "Main tera baap hoon" ("I'm your dad") creep in, until the margin of satire shrinks to the extent of being non-existent.  And we finally come to a stage where Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh "adopt" Ranbir's character! "Go for it," Ranbir's sidekick Titu (well played by Amitosh Nagpal) tells the hero. "You even look like the female cop (Neetu Singh)."

Well, well.

The trouble with mainstream Hindi cinema is that when all is said and done, it is nothing but a star-vehicle. "Besharam" stars off cocking a snook at conventional trappings. It eventually ends up sucking up to cinematic clichés, and with not even a pretence of subtlety.

"Besharam" is clogged with plot-holes into which the characters happily fall. There they remain happily wallowing in the uni-dimensionality of their narrow world-view.  

The fuss, if you must know, is over a posh car bought by the girl that our hero, Bunty, has fallen for. That the girl, Pallavi Sharda, seems to belong to another plot and another film is besides the point.  Bunty loves her, period. And what follows is a series of goofy escapades where Bunty outwits the villain. Laughter.

It is sad to see Rishi Kapoor reduced to sitting on the potty and noisily clearing his bowels. And at one point, the heroine herself asks: "Yeh thoda vulgar nahin ho gaya?" ("That got a little vulgar?")

Stars’ speak

Ranbir has shared the screen space with his parents - Rishi and Neetu Kapoor for the first time. So, the movie is special for the Kapoor family.

Sharing his experience, Ranbir said, "I was nervous before. It's been 30 years, and even today main apne papa se aankhen milake nahi baat kar paata (I can't talk to him eye-to-eye). I'm quite scared of him. I thought how will I work with him and in this film I have said things to him like - 'fat', 'dharti pe bojh' and even abused him. My parents are so professional that when we are working together, they never make me realize that main tere baap hoon (I'm your father). They have encouraged me a lot.”

Veteran Neetu Singh says she is proud of her actor son Ranbir's choice of diverse roles and his good work in Bollywood. "It's good, he should do different characters, it's also good as an actor. Sometimes he does 'Rockstar' and then 'Barfi!' and now 'Besharam'. So it's good for the actor," she said

Shooting with the Kapoor family was a once-in- a-lifetime opportunity for Pallavi. She considers herself lucky to act with all the three stars in one film itself.

Director’s cut

Talking about the role and looks of Ranbir in the movie, "He is not anti hero here. He is the hero amongst the masses and a hero with whom everyone will relate to. I am not trying to propagate any social message through my film. He is here to entertain everyone, even a poor man, who is not educated," he said.

Talking about the title "Besharam", he said that the idea is to dispel negativity attached to the word.

"When I was making 'Dabangg' as well, people used to ask me that why am I naming my film 'Dabangg' as it is a negative word. Even 'Besharam' is a villainous word. I want to tell people the right meaning of the word. I want to show that 'Besharam' can be positive. This will be the quality of my hero. He is a poor guy but has a nice heart," he said.

Abhinav is known for his masala entertainer, while his elder brother and filmmaker Anurag Kashyap's forte is parallel cinema. And the "Dabangg" director says they want to rule different areas of Bollywood.

JPN/Agencies (video courtesy: Mid-Day)

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