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Upperstall Review



Official Site

Badmaash Company


Hindi, Drama, 2010, Color

Life in the 1990s was remarkably different for the average Indian. Consumerism had not set in. It was devoid of most of the luxuries of the West. In fact everything 'imported' was good, and everything Indian, passe. The film is an extraordinary story set in the 1990s in middle class Bombay (as it was known then), of four ordinary youngsters - Karan (Shahid Kapoor), Bulbul (Anushka Sharma), Zing (Meiyang Chang) and Chandu (Vir Das) - who came together to start an import business of things longed for by yuppie Indians! What made their venture such a stupendous success was the fact that they found a way to beat the system and soon became the undisputed kings in their business, realizing their one dream of making quick money by doing all the wrong things, the right way! Living the life of champagne wishes and caviar dreams, the four friends discover that to make a business successful you don't need big money. All you need is a big idea!

There is a lot of walking in Badmaash Company. And flying. Shahid is walking, the cronies are walking, they walk together, they walk in pairs, in different combinations of two three and four, they walk mostly in slow-mo, but there are special effects walking shots too. They walk in Times Square, Bangkok, and they walk in Bombay of 1994. And they keep flying - there are more shots of planes landing, taking off, and every angle mid-air than there are in a pilot's tutorial video. It's practically Up in the Air. Somewhere in between all this, there are some harebrained, loophole-ridden make money quick schemes that Shahid devises that make multi-level-marketing scams look good. Badmaash Company. BC.

Shahid Kapoor reprises his role from John Mathew Mathan's Shikhar. It seems he didn't learn the lesson the first time round: ambition is fine as long as your feet are grounded for success goes to people's head and your friends and family will feel terribly let down. That is the story of BC too. Except that BC is far more preachy with its in-your-face moralizing. Yes, we get it. Mr Parmeet Sethi, you don't have to spend two and half-hours with a second half that seems like a month to present us with everyday life lessons and a plot so predictable that you're spouting dialogue and foretelling scenes well in advance (yes even Michael Jackson was foreshadowed a tad too strongly and his comeback wasn't unexpected at all). In fact, the kiss-and-make up scenes are so convenient, it's hardly any surprise that there is no redemption scene between father and son, considering he was the main person in whose eyes the badmaash kiddo needed absolution for his actions. One can only guess that it was snipped on the table because one supposes Sethi felt it was way cooler to show fancy airplane shots rather than have the relatively more boring scene of a real heartfelt exchange between the protagonists. The cons themselves are probably researched to a certain extent but simply do not have any unique wow factor. And each of them has a loophole. Let's just say none of the jobs could have been pulled off in real life, especially the ones in America.

The pacing of the film is all wrong, and the screenplay and edit are at loggerheads with each other. They compromise by throwing in scenes involving people walking to be used as transitions, time lapses, and fillers. Sometimes it's also used as a device to forward plot. When they're taking it easy, Sethi comes up with some real gems which involve horrible, horrible racist jokes (also splattered all over the promos) on Meiyang Chang's character. There are simply too many of them and very little to set it right. Regressive and pathetic. To pull off intentional, tongue-in-cheek racist remarks you have to have a lot more panache and half a mind. Clearly all of YRF put together now lacks even this much.

There really isn't any stand out scene, and there are several cringe-worthy ones. Add to that the basic issue of having seen it all before. Films like BC are probably just more fun to make than they are to watch.

Shahid Kapoor is actually not bad. The boy has screen presence and does manage to look a little like Brad Pitt if his mouth is closed. Anushka Sharma is horribly exposed after her decent debut in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. When she's not smiling, she looks like Humpty Dumpty. After the fall. Chang and Vir Das give it all and okay, aren't too bad.

Technically, the film lacks in the sound and costume department. Overall sound design is amateur and dubbing sync is inexcusably off in too many places. The styling is inconsistent which is silly considering it's a rags-to-riches story from India to America in the 90s. Art direction? Yes, the India bits look set in the 90s, but the same can't be said about the foreign locales. Background score is OTT, songs are ho-hum. The Fakira track is final proof of how 'obvious' a film BC is. It plays on the visuals of Shahid working as an hourly-wage worker (in his uncle's company, the same man who lent him many lakhs for his first con job, but that's another story.) Cinematography is good.

Sethi's big directorial debut is far from perfect. There is much to do, much to learn. A little more sensitivity, a little less walking. A little less predictability, a little more intellect.

Upperstall review by: filmbear





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