Starring Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Aditya Roy Kapoor. Rated PG. Now playing
In a plot borrowed from Back to the Future, Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s Action Replayy promises us a fun romp through an iconic decade of the past: the 1970s. Bollywood in that era was indeed a riot and has been the premise of a few good retro films. This is not one of them.
Watch the trailer for Action Replayy.
Kishen (Akshay Kumar) is middle-aged and unhappily married to Mala (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). Even at their 35th-anniversary party they make a scene with their arguing. Their son, Bunty (Aditya Roy Kapoor), whose own fear of commitment stems from a frontline view of their misery, vows to go back in time and turn their arranged marriage into a love marriage.
Conveniently, his girlfriend’s uncle is a mad scientist with a homemade time machine that can help him give his parents a do-over.
In the ’70s, Kishen is an awkward, bullied geek with bad teeth. The young Mala is strong, fiesty, and suffers no fools. Sadly, Bunty’s plan involves him turning his father into a player and his mother into a tamed shadow of herself. Bunty’s main obstacle is the requisite neighbourhood bully (Rannvijay Singh) who humiliates Kishen and tries to romance Mala.
This is familiar ground, but entirely without warmth. There is nothing to make us root for this couple or their unimaginative son. The allusions to the pop culture and politics of the period fall flat, and the particularities of the streets of ’70s Bombay appear to have been added on with a child’s felt pen. The fashions are fun, but work much better for the women than the men. The score does contain a few catchy retro-inspired numbers like “Chhan Ke Mohalla”, “Zor Ka Jhatka”, and the melodic “O Bekhabar”, but they will be more enjoyable on iTunes than in this film.