(Published in The Sunday Guardian, on December 9, 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/khiladi-needs-to-retire)
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Asin Thottumkal, Himesh Reshammiya and others
Director: Ashish R Mohan
Rating: 1 star
Akshay Kumar makes about six movies a year. None of them is great. Most aren’t good. But they’re all watchable, and a couple may make you laugh a few times, because of a funny monosyllabic catchphrase, a ridiculous trademark walk, decent comic timing, and a capable supporting cast. Khiladi 786 isn’t one of those films. I believe Akki returns to the “Khiladi series” after a hiatus of 12 years. That snippet brought back unpleasant memories of helicopters, women wrestlers, and a Don collective.
Khiladi 786 is unbearable partly because it features Asin Thottumkal and Himesh Reshammiya for several more frames than the human brain can endure. It also features more Himesh songs than the human ear can endure. My first laugh of the movie was at the song Sari Sari Raat, and that was because Reshammiya’s nasal high-pitch is so out of sync with Akshay Kumar’s voice that the actor looks embarrassed to be mouthing the lyrics.
Akshay’s brand of comedy is mostly fun because it’s a given that any woman will eventually fall for him, and he rarely bothers with romance. He spends his screen time hanging out with an unlikely sidekick – here, it’s Gurpreet Ghuggi – and using the elements as weapons against villains. Khiladi 786 starts off promisingly enough – with Paresh Rawal playing a wheeling-dealing wedding broker. Unfortunately, we don’t see much of him after, and we get too much of Reshammiya, who plays his son Mansukh, and is inexplicably supplied with a sidekick (Sanjai Mishra).
Akshay’s intro is decent too. At the first confrontation, he executes what must be the first three-point landing off a police jeep. The jeep continues to spin as he catwalks to the villains, half his cop’s khaki shirt hanging out of his trousers. As he dusts off his hands, he gives us the Line everyone will recite with inordinate pride at regular intervals through the film: “Duniya mein teen cheezen hoti zaroor hai, lekin kisi ne dekhi nahin – bhooton ka sansar, asliwale pyaar, aur Bahattar Singh ki raftaar.”
Bahattar Singh comes from a fake cop family in Punjab, whose badges have numerals instead of names, followed by ‘Singh’. The ‘786’ comes from what Bahattar claims is a birthmark, but appears to have been drawn with a cheap ballpoint pen. Yep, he can’t be too fussy about bathing. Mansukh sets him up with Indu (Asin), sister of goonda TTT (Mithun Chakraborty) – ah, there’s another laugh – and Bahattar goes about wooing Indu through a series of terrible songs, all of which let her jiggle her love handles, and some very unfunny PJs.
The Verdict: The film is an assault on both sense and intellect.