For an instant, it almost seemed pointless to review a film like Bodyguard, simply because of how insignificant a small piece of writing can seem in front of the mega-blockbuster that Salman Khan now seems to deliver on a semester basis. For a film that has already made hundreds of crores in India and Pakistan alone, who wants to know what the critics think anyways? Certainly not the makers of this film.
Yet, it is imperative to establish that the critic is only a viewer with a voice that can resonate outside of the cinema hall. As for the cinema hall — well, I saw the film with a crowd that unanimously laughed at the film’s climactic moment, in which a sleepy five-year-old approaches a woman he has met moments before and asks her “Kya aap meri mummy bano gi?”
Yes, this is that sort of a film: it starts off with an action sequence, and turns into a comedy before it finally becomes a love story. The plot, if it can be called that, revolves around Divya (played by a ravishing Kareena Kapoor) who pretends to play a phone call lover to Lovely Singh (played by Salman Khan), who happens to be her bodyguard. And yes, this is why the film is called that, subtlety be damned!
While Bodyguard is not completely unwatchable, it is still devastating to see a megastar — with enough power to convince half the world’s cine-going population to spend Rs350 to watch him do his workout — resort to making a film in which the size of a fat guy and the height of a dwarf are the source of all jokes. And the insensitivity wouldn’t matter one bit if the jokes actually worked. They don’t. Which is why, surprisingly, the so-called entertainer of the masses ends up being such a big bore for the most part.
You don’t expect Bodyguard to be an Oscar contender or to innovate storytelling methods, yet the least a film like this could do would be to ensure that its emotionally charged, melodramatic climax — lifted off from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai — doesn’t end up becoming its funniest moment.
The point is that the film is not doing great business because of its aforementioned shortcomings but despite them. And that is thanks to two genuinely appealing stars. Salman Khan, to be fair, tries to pull off a softer, mellower image. And while not entirely unsuccessful, he still hasn’t realised the extent of his responsibility towards cinema-goers; when he does, he’ll be able to focus and utilise his star power for making great movies instead of just great money.
Kareena Kapoor, clearly the finest out of the current Bollywood lot, looks absolutely stunning throughout and manages to miraculously salvage a handful of moments with her effervescence. The rest of the cast is nothing to write home about, except that ridiculous fat guy who ends up being the most irritating, unfunny character I have ever seen on screen.
So that’s it from my side. You’ll probably watch this film anyways, because you’re still curious to know what the whole hoopla is about, Khan and the producers will probably come up with a sillier sequel two years later and make bagfuls of money. But when you’re plodding through the so-bad-it’s-good climax of the film, remember — I warned ya.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, September 25th, 2011.