I saw a new movie! In theaters! Like in Olden Times! And like in Olden Times, I am doing a whole separate “Spoiler” review just in case you want to watch it. If you don’t want to watch it, read this review anyway, I’m gonna get all deep about gender and Delhi versus Bombay and fun stuff like that.
Randeep Hooda has just arrived in Bombay from Delhi with his gang and is pushing drugs hard on the youth of Bombay. The Bombay police call in Salman, tough hero cop, to clean up the city. Salman is touched when he meets a young man whose best friend died from drugs. He also meets sexy Disha Patani on the road and falls for her, not knowing she is the little sister of his boss Jackie Shroff. Salman starts cleaning up the city with his team by tracking down and threatening the two current reigning Bombay gangsters, the one representing the southern immigrants in the slums, and the Muslim one. They both honestly say they hate drugs and would never bring that into their city, and will work with Salman to get rid of the drugs. BUT! The Muslim gangsters skeezy little brother is secretly working with Randeep Hooda. They trap and kill his big brother and now the southern immigrant gangster is the only one standing against drugs. Until Randeep makes a fuss in a club/brothel and threatens two female workers there raising the ire of the pimp/club owner who also wants him out of the city. Many gang wars and fights, meanwhile Salman is pretending he wants to be a model in order to woo Disha Patani, and reassuring his young female subordinate who froze in the middle of a fight. Salman also asks the kids of Bombay high schools to help fight drugs by recording things on their cell phones and sending it to him. In the end Disha is kidnapped by Randeep, Salman sends his gangster allies after Randeep. Randeep goes on the run and lands at the restaurant owned by the teenager whose friend died from the beginning. Salman shows up and rescues the teen and his Grandpa, then live streams them a video of him killing Randeep Hooda. The movie ends with Salman and Jackie Shroff jokingly strolling off together into the sunset.
Let me see if I can outline the morality of this movie. On the one hand, we have Jackie Shroff who is caught going and enjoying sexy times at a club with ladies who are maybe club hostesses? Sex workers? Something? And that’s okay. And on the other hand, we have Randeep paying off his business partner to leave the room so he can rape his girlfriend, and that’s not okay. We have Salman lying to Disha and enjoying looking at her being sexy, and that’s okay. We have Jackie trying to control Disha and complaining about her dressing sexy, and that’s not okay. We have Disha salivating over Salman and having nothing in her brain beyond sexy happy fun times. But we also have the AWESOME Megha Akash who is Salman’s mentee in the police department. So I guess it is drawing a line between forgivable minor human sins, and the ones that actively harm people?
Jackie Shroff will have sexy fun times at a nightclub. But only when off duty, and only at a club where he knows the lady workers are not being miss-treated. Salman can be as objectifying and over the top as he wants with his girlfriend, but he shuts off anything at all like that when he is mentoring his female subordinate. Salman can notice and appreciate the style sense Disha already has, but no one should be controlling her style sense, Salman or Jackie.
I’m not saying it’s a perfect movie morally, Disha really is treated as just a sexy fun object in a way that is going to tell the male viewers “ladies are just there to be sexy”. And it’s not awesome that we see a police officer getting drunk and sex at a nightclub even off duty. But I find the whole decision to have morality still in the film, but not at the usual line, really interesting! Does that make sense? You could have a totally grey movie, cops and robbers both doing terrible things and it just being about the over the top entertainment. Or you could have a standard movie where the cop doesn’t drink or womanize or anything and all criminals are equally horrible. But in this case, it’s a black and white moral line, but moved up to a different level of morality? For sure good people and bad people, only on the “good” side we include nightclub owners/pimps and gangsters and our hero who lies to his girlfriend and so on. Bad people are rapists, heartless, with no moral lines.
The other thing this movie draws as a line is people who live in a community versus “outsiders”. It’s not that Randeep Hooda is evil because he is from Delhi, it’s that he is evil because he sees Bombay as a playground where he can do anything he want. The folks who live there, who are committed, they have lines they won’t cross. The nightclub owner/pimp doesn’t want his employees hurt or scared or unhappy, the local gangsters don’t want drugs taking over their city and breaking the social order, and so on. In contrast with Randeep Hooda, we have Salman. Who also arrives in the city from somewhere else but immediately bonds with the young student and sees the people around him as people, identifies with them.
So there’s some interesting stuff here! Mostly about identifying with the people around you, forgiving little sins, understanding what can be forgiven and what can’t, thinking of the bigger community. And then there’s also my favorite part, Megha Akash. She is the only woman on Salman’s team. But she is really treated more like the “naïve new recruit” than a woman. Salman sees her freeze up during the first fight and takes care of her to keep her safe, then gives her a pep talk about how she can overcome her fear. And in the next fight, she is the one who makes the difference. For all Disha Patani’s extreme objectification, Megha Akash is treated as a promising young cop and that’s it.
This is never going to be a Great Film. But it’s a solid action film with some wacky bits, and a not terrible message about forgiving people little sins. The biggest flaw is actually Salman. He just can’t do the fight scenes any more. To make up for it, they do a lot of tricky editing, try to have fun with it, but it just isn’t the same. I honestly can’t recommend it as an action movie just because there isn’t enough action. But it’s still kind of fun!
Oh, and you get to see Jackie Shroff in a tiny mini-dress if you are into that kind of thing.