Starring Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, and Anil Kapoor. In Hindi with English subtitles. Rated 14A.
Retro seems to be the flavour in Bollywood as more and more filmmakers revisit the style and substance of 1970s and ’80s films.
Tashan gives a full-body makeover to the formula film, complete with a mean-ass baddie, a damsel in distress, and an antihero who saves the day by becoming even more bad-ass than the baddie.
Bollywood veteran Anil Kapoor plays Bhaiyaji, a tobacco-chewing villain with two obsessions: killing people with his favourite cricket bat and learning to speak English, both of which he does with attitude and style. His more-than-meets-the-eye assistant, Pooja (Kareena Kapoor), is given the task of finding an English teacher for her boss, and she charms a call-centre employee, Jimmy Cliff (Saif Ali Khan), into the job. Jimmy falls head over heels for Pooja, but he’s only a pawn in her plan. She robs her boss of all his ill-gotten money and disappears, leaving Jimmy to face his wrath. Bhaiyaji enlists a village thug with a heart of gold (Akshay Kumar) to chase down Pooja and recover the money.
The A-list cast keeps things moving along admirably as the film jumps from one improbable situation to another, interspersed with some entertaining song-and-dance numbers featuring Kapoor and her sexy body. There is high-octane action courtesy of Kumar, and laughs from Bhaiyaji’s gibberish English-Hindi mix, but this last is more of a guilty pleasure, as it adds nothing.
Despite the superstars, the high production values, and abundant gloss from leading Indian studio Yash Raj Films, the film fails. This is largely because of a weak script and cardboard characters who never rise above the histrionics of writer-director Vijay Krishna Acharya. Like many young Bollywood directors, Acharya is more interested in fast-paced visuals than in telling a good story.