Now that the 1980s' variety of masala films are being lapped up by spectators, it is heartening to see Mumbai-based film-makers working hard to create zany entertainers, also boarding the next available flight to South India to clinch the deal/s for the remake rights of Southern blockbusters. The A-list actors, on their part, are equally gung ho for unabashed entertainers, consenting to allocate ample time to movies of this variety.
Akshay Kumar, who tasted super success earlier this year with ROWDY RATHORE [besides HOUSEFULL 2 and OMG – OH MY GOD!], comes up with his second masala outing before the year draws to a close, KHILADI 786. What makes KHILADI 786 conspicuous is the fact that it marks Akshay's return as 'Khiladi' after more than a decade. From the immensely likeable KHILADI in 1992 to KHILADI 420 in 2000, Akshay was the face of over half-a-dozen 'Khiladi' movies during that phase — some good, some plain average, some terrible movies. The brand 'Khiladi' got affixed to Akshay in those years.
Come to think of it, KHILADI 786 has been made with the intention of grabbing the attention of the hardcore masses, hitting the ton [Rs 100 cr Club] and giving the tag of a 'Hit Machine' to its lead man, Akshay, who has delivered three solid hits this year. Ashish R. Mohan, who has been an apprentice to Rohit Shetty in the past, adapts his mentor's formula of wooing the audience, stretching the term unbelievable more than it should. More on that later!
Born to the owner of a marriage bureau Champak Lal [Manoj Joshi], Mansukh [Himesh Reshammiya] has been a complete failure ever since he has grown up and tried to help his father in their family business. All the alliances he had tried to get done have resulted in separation even before the marriage took place.
To prove his worth to his father, he takes up an unusual challenge of getting the underworld don, TT Bhai's [Mithun Chakraborty] spoilt sister Indu [Asin] married to a cop called Bahattar Singh aka Khiladi 786 [Akshay Kumar] in Punjab. Mansukh convinces TT Bhai to pretend as a cop. Little do they know that Bahattar Singh, his father Sattar Singh [Raj Babbar] and his uncle Ikhattar Singh [Mukesh Rishi] are not cops, but a family of con men.
The two families now pretend to be policemen in front of each other, but the cat is out of the bag soon…
KHILADI 786 is an old-school wacky potboiler. There isn't an iota of logic here and one is not even looking for intelligence, rationale or justification either. The film is packed with ingredients that constitute a wholesome entertainer such as humor, South-styled stunts with the one-man army outsmarting a bunch of deadly goons and of course, visually enticing songs every 15/20 minutes, but the writing has its share of hiccups…
* Mithun is supposed to be a dreaded don in Mumbai, whose name and pics have been splashed in newspapers and TV channels since decades [we're even shown clips], but how come Raj Babbar, Akshay and their family are completely clueless of his identity?
* The track of Asin's lover [Rahul Singh] is a yawn. What was the writer thinking while penning those sequences?
* The climax, with Rajesh Khattar landing up at the wedding, Johny Lever unlocking himself from a room where he was held captive and Mushtaq Khan and Bharti suddenly becoming news reporters at the wedding mandap, looks too much of a cinematic liberty.
On the plus side, the first-time director throws every trick in the book to entice the spectator and moves on to the next scene, before the viewer gets the feeling of deja vu. There's no denying that you actually enjoy certain moments in the narrative. The concept of having an African and Chinese in the family is so funny. Also, the lost-in-mela brother surfacing in the end may look ridiculous, but makes you smile again. In a nutshell, the film caters to the masala loving audience and the director has no qualms about admitting it.
Himesh Reshammiya, who enacts a pivotal part in the film, belts out super numbers here. 'Balma', 'Lonely', 'Hookah' and 'Long Drive' have already made it to the music charts and are, without doubt, standout tracks. The action sequences are very much macho and executed with zest and enthusiasm.
Akshay's desi punches, raw and masculine action and the correct comic timing is sure to win a lot of hearts yet again. He is in his element, in complete form, brimming with charm and confidence. He's the mainstay of the film and lives up to the title every bit. Asin is the prototypical heroine who has to look her best, dance admirably and pair off with her on-screen man.
Himesh Reshammiya does very well, while Mithun Chakraborty and Raj Babbar add lots of weight to their characters. Sanjay Mishra is in his element. Mukesh Tiwari impresses. Johny Lever is under-utilized. Manoj Joshi, Rajesh Khattar, Mukesh Rishi and Gurpreet Guggi are perfect. Mushtaq Khan, Bharti and Rahul Singh deserved better roles. Claudia Ciesla's item song adds glamour to the proceedings.
On the whole, KHILADI 786 is not for purists, but for lovers of hardcore masala films completely. If zany amusement, wacky humor and over the top entertainers is what you enjoy, this one's for you. Go, have fun!