'Bade Miyan Chote Miyan' Review: Pop patriotism meets mindless action

Prithviraj Sukumaran, as the antagonist, is the best part of this overdone action comedy

By Lekha Menon

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Published: Thu 11 Apr 2024, 1:20 PM

Last updated: Thu 11 Apr 2024, 5:53 PM

In the numerous interviews leading up to the release of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (BMCM), Bollywood’s much-hyped Eid movie, lead actor Akshay Kumar said that audiences should treat this film as an entertainer and not look for any social messaging. Director Ali Abbas Zafar stated the makers had designed it like a comic book.

After watching the film, there is one message I’d like to give Akshay and Ali – thank you for the warning.

The trailer itself gave away a lot of what was to be expected – pop patriotism, stylised heroes, menacing villain, big scale action sequences (also translated as cars, trucks and helicopters being blown to smithereens), the mandatory eye-candy (also called ‘heroines’) and reasonably well-choreographed songs and dances. In other words, the typical Bollywood masala fare (also called ‘massy pan India films’). These are the kind of flicks where you are supposed to not ask questions or look for any semblance of logic.

The problem is, even if you willingly walk into the theatres keeping a good portion of your brain aside, there has to be some redeeming factors or at least a few elements that make your time worth the popcorn. Unfortunately, this Bade-Chote saga has few and far between. The title is a tribute to the ‘90s comedy starring Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda. Perhaps the best achievement of BMCM is that it makes you rewind to the old film and title song.

It’s a real pity considering the calibre of the talent associated with this project. Ali Abbas Zafar has a pretty good track record – Sultan, Tiger Zinda Hai, Bharat, Bloody Daddy and more. Akshay Kumar, despite a series of recent disappointments, is a joy to watch in action scenes. And Tiger Shroff, not exactly known to flex his acting muscles, can dance and bash the baddies like a dream. Finally, there’s the magnificent Prithviraj Sukumaran, the current leading light of the best film producing industry in India – Malayalam. Yet, nothing comes together in this mish-mash of a film.

Akshay and Tiger play Freddie and Rocky, two ultra-patriotic but defiant court-martialled soldiers (are there any other kinds in Bollywood?!) who love to banter and play a game of mock one-upmanship. The duo is called by their former boss (Ronit Roy) to save the country from a masked gravelly-voiced villain who has stolen an all-important “package” (that’s what the film calls it) after mowing down India’s soldiers. Aiding them in this task is an aviator wearing grim female soldier Capt. Misha (Manushi Chhillar), Pam (Alaya F.), a talkative IT specialist researching in AI, Military Intelligence and “what not” (as the film says) and Sonakshi Sinha in a cameo. Masked man is evil incarnate and wants to destroy India but - surprise surprise - he doesn’t belong to Bollywood’s current favourite punching bag, Pakistan. Instead, he is a disgruntled patriot who was stopped by the armed forces from carrying out some nefarious designs and is now seeking revenge. How can our boys stop him? Find out if you have the patience.

The budget for Bade Miyan Chote Miyan is evidently huge. The film has been shot in Abu Dhabi, Jordan, London and sets in India designed to look like Afghanistan. The number of cars blown up would make Rohit Shetty blush. Real weaponry and equipment have been used. And Prithviraj’s mask would have cost a hefty sum too. Yet, one fails to understand why the writers could not stitch together a coherent plot that at least makes sense even if it is far from convincing or even funny.

Actor Prithviraj plays the masked villain in 'BMCM'
Actor Prithviraj plays the masked villain in 'BMCM'

The patriotism is there in oodles; after all it’s the flavour of the season. Thankfully, there is no jingoism, but the motherland Vs enemy battle is seriously stale and overdone. Also, why do all war-action-thriller films these days borrow from the same Pathan-Tiger 3-Fighter-Yodha playbook of upset villainous patriots and misunderstood, authority-defying soldiers? In BMCM, the new elements include science, AI and some lab-designed antagonists which, aside from giving a chance to Alaya F to mouth mumbo-jumbo, make no real impression.

On the technical side, the sound design is great and there are some great action sequences, hand-to-hand and car chases but in the absence of a solid story or compelling characters, they seem rather hollow. The two main characters, Akshay and Tiger appear to be having fun. They have good chemistry and the senior actor seems to have genuine affection for the latter. However, the only star who actually shines with his performance is Prithviraj. His back story, where he is seen sans his hideous mask, is easily the best part of the film and that’s because the focus is on the star alone without any distractions. It just goes to show a great actor can even make a silly plot and character watchable.

BMCM has been described as a comedy action thriller. We could believe this description had the banter between Tiger and Akshay shown wit, sparkle and verve. Or had the action scenes shown some imagination other than just blowing up vehicles, causing a lot of explosions and having its leads walk in slo-mo.

There was one moment that made this film seem true to its description. During a tense exchange between a senior Army officer and the two soldiers, the former explains how a hostage situation had arisen because the militants were demanding the release of the son of a famous terrorist. “Terrorism mein bhi nepotism?” questions Tiger. It’s one of those few lines that elicits a chuckle.

Seriously, when will Bollywood give us an action film that entertains, makes us laugh and gives actual thrills?

Bade Miyan Chote Miyan

Director: Ali Abbas Zafar

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Tiger Shroff, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Manushi Chhillar, Alaya F

Stars: 1.5/5


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