I’m back! I already put up the No Spoilers review which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the film. The plot is a total mess, so knowing spoilers won’t really change anything. This review is probably more helpful for people who have seen the film and are confused (as I was), than for people curious what the film is about. Bottomline is, it’s about nothing!
Whole confusing stupid plot:
Anil Kapoor is an arms deal and patriarch of a wealthy family living in an unidentified Arab country. His oldest stepson is Salman. Then he has twins, Saqib Saleem and Daisy Shah. And Salman’s best friend/bodyguard Bobby Deol is considered part of the family. Saqib and Daisy are jealous because Salman inherited more from their mother than they did. Anil tells them it is because Salman is the son of their mother’s first husband who established their wealth and was wrongfully killed in India sending the family to flee to the middle east with Anil taking over and marrying Salman’s mother, his older brother. Saqib and Daisy are still jealous and come up with a plan to destroy him. They hire Jacqueline to seduce Salman and then Bobby, driving a wedge between them. But Bobby and Salman see through the plan and remain united, instead playing the twins. Until they carry out a heist in Bangkok, getting blackmail material that will allow Anil to force his way back into India, and Salman is set up and dragged off by the authorities. Only for Jacqueline to save him and reveal she is now working with him. And that she is in fact a government agent who was just pretending to be a conwoman in order to get in with their family. And at the same time, there is a twist that Bobby is working with Daisy, they are in love and they have set up Salman in order to get his part of the inheritance.
Salman escapes and returns home for a reckoning. But then is killed by Anil Kapoor, his stepfather/uncle. Anil arrives at his meeting with the politicians to show them the blackmail video stolen from Bangkok, but instead a video plays of Salman and Daisy and Saqib’s dead mother revealing that they are all full siblings, she never married Anil. Anil in fact killed their father and then tricked her into coming to his middle east home where he poisoned her slowly, then took over raising her children and slowly drove a wedge between them in order to trick them out of their inheritance. Salman has known this for 10 years, has pretended to like Anil in order to stay close to him and has protected his siblings as best he can. Jacqueline came in to investigate Anil, Salman figured out what she was doing and allied with her, and this whole time he has been waiting for the perfect moment to reveal the truth to Daisy and Saqib and reunite the family, and take down Anil. And one final reveal, Bobby Deol is actually the biological son of Anil, he was a real friend to Salman and the others but ultimately loyal to Anil. Salman forgives Bobby and sends him off to jail after one final fight, Anil goes to but without forgiveness. Salman and Daisy and Saqib are united at last, Jacqueline is there too, and it is possible that Daisy and Bobby still have sincere feelings for each other but they can’t be together. Final shot, Anil Kapoor in jail blackmailing the jailer and Bobby working out in prison and then giving a secret smile to the camera like he still has a plan.
So, this film is a MESS!!!!!! I can see the basic idea, it is supposed to be three siblings fighting together, and then the final twist is that their father is the one who is controlling everything, and the other twist is that the overlooked loyal bodyguard is running things.
(Also a mess, THIS SONG!!! Salman can’t dance, Jacqueline is just going to be inserting pole dancing into all of her movies now I guess, and the costumes are hideous)
But then Salman came in and tried to Salmanify it. Suddenly there is this complicated backstory that makes them all real siblings instead of half siblings, and Salman turns into the protective older brother who can forgive anything. And Daisy and Saqib have to be redeemed as well, despite having just planned his death/life long imprisonment and generally been terrible the whole time. And Bobby’s motivation has to turn into family as well, that he is doing it all for Anil who is secretly his father.
Heck, just remove Bobby entirely! That’s a good solution. Good older brother, evil younger siblings, seemingly saintly father, and then twist on twist on twist after that. It builds on the ideas of Race 1, that the good brother and bad brother aren’t locked in their roles, that no one is what they seem, that family is twisted. And come to think of it, you could remove Daisy too. Strip this down to two brothers and a father, with a heroine wild card thrown into the mix. You end up with an interesting twist on the Race 1 plot, and something that would be a fun film to enjoy the twists and try to guess what would happen next, without just being overwhelmed by complications.
(For instance, this song with Jacqueline, Salman, and Saqib, would be so much easier to follow and more interesting to watch)
But then Salman insisted on bringing in Bobby, and probably Daisy too. And turning it into a “family” film, with all the complicated illogical relationships between them. And finally the complete illogical redemption of his character. He isn’t a tricky man making alliances and looking out for himself and getting revenge, he has spent the past 10 years waiting to bring justice for his mother and protect and build a relationship with his younger siblings. Only, in that case, how the heck did this family turn out so messy? Why did he wait so long? Why was he still friendly with Bobby even knowing he was against him? Did he know? It just brings in way more questions than it answers in the end, and the questions multiply with every extraneous character.
It’s just a complete miss match between director and story and cast and tone. The ending wants it to be Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, the family reunited against all odds. But the tone wants it to be a Race movie, with amoral rich people overseas. The director Remo D’Souza wants to be making a fun silly dance film. Daisy Shah wants to be in a silly dance/action movie. Saqib Saleem wants to be in a dramatic tangled character film. Anil Kapoor wants to be in a comedy. Bobby Deol wants to be in a 90s action film. Salman wants to be in another perfect hero oriented film. Jacqueline is the one who does best because this is the role she always plays, the entertaining sexy love interest.
(And boy does Jacqueline have to work to sell the love story!)
The best part of this film is Anil Kapoor. Partly because his is the character that has the clearest direction. It’s essentially the same role he played in Tashaan, the seemingly cheerful and a little funny rich desi gangster, who slowly reveals a darkness underneath. The worst thing about his character is that the twist comes so extremely late, partly because we had to waste all that time on every other character getting a twist. But at least he still has enough time to fully explore and explain his character.
Let’s look at Daisy Shah. She starts out as a thrill seeking spoiled rich girl who learns her father was shot by their rival arms dealer and impulsively rushes off with her twin brother to get vengeance. But then she turns into a selfish type who is jealous of her big brother’s inheritance. And then out of nowhere suddenly she is in love with Bobby and working with him above all. And then betrayed by Bobby and learning in the same moment that the man she thought was her father actually killed her parents, and the older brother she hated had been protecting her all along.
(Daisy doesn’t even get her own song video, they replace her with Jacqueline. Partly, I am sure, to hide the twist that she is with Bobby, but it’s also another unfairness to her character)
This has the possibility of an interesting character. A girl who is looking for thrills, feeling something empty in her life, all turned around by her fake father who has been playing mind games with her all her life. Easy pickings for a seemingly stable and caring man like Bobby to seduce and convince that she should start a new life with him. Only for all of that to fall apart for her as she learns that the brother she hated is the one she should trust, and the man she loved was just using her. Could be an interesting sort of psychological drama, kind of like what Deepika went through in Race 3. But the writing just isn’t there for it, or the performance, or the directing. For this kind of character journey to work, there has to be a lot of care and patience. Without it, you just end up with a pretty face going through the motions of a ridiculous plot while the audience tries to follow along and eventually loses interest.
There’s Bobby too. The best friend and loyal bodyguard who falls in love and wants something for himself, uses his skills to help himself for once and is the one true match for Salman. That’s a great story! Followed by the twist that, although he may have really been friends with Salman and wanted to do right, and truly loved Daisy, his ultimate loyalty is to his father Anil just because he is his father. Again, this is a really interesting character. And one that, probably, Bobby could have even pulled off. But the directing isn’t there, the direction isn’t there, and most of all the time isn’t there.
These two characters are the ones with the most glaring issues, but all of them have them to some degree. Saqib Saleem, he could be a spoiled rich kid who slowly grows up, only we never see that. Jacqueline, she could be a thrill seeking adventurer who is surprised by actually learning to care for someone. Anil Kapoor, well he’s just evil! But I’d love to see more of that too.
(This is the one semi-decent song in the movie. Partly because Anil gets to be there for much of the time)
Salman’s character, he’s got a different problem. There’s too many twists with him, some of which make no sense (why would he pretend to be conflicted in private moments with Jacqueline if they were working together all along?), but the bigger issue is the performance. Salman is confident in those small moments when he is sure what he is doing. When he is holding a gun and reciting a one liner. When he is in the middle of a shirtless fight scene with Bobby Deol. But those moments are few and far between. Most of the time, he is reciting dialogue as though he is making it up line by line, randomly saying “cool cool” or “that’s great” at random intervals with seemingly no connection to what is said in the other dialogue around him. Or even the basic emotions of the scene.
Salman moved this whole movie around to fit what he wanted it to be, to bring in his friends and the kind of story he wanted. And then he wasn’t able to do what he needed to do to sell the film. He couldn’t manage the action scenes, and he couldn’t manage the warm fuzzies family scenes. And he certainly couldn’t work with his co-stars to help make sense of their characters when he was only half handling his own.
And that’s on top of the terribly written and sung songs that come from Salman, the handpicked director from him, all the other decisions that went to building this as a “Salman” film. There’s nothing wrong with a Salman film, but Salman has to actually show up to work on it to make it work.
(Look at the action scenes in this and compare them with anything from Dabangg. It’s just not the same)