Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Salman Khan, Rani Mukerji, John Abraham, Om Puri & Rajpal Yadav
Director: Ravi Chopra
Family films are probably the biggest sellers in Indian cinema. They work like no other films because the entire family can watch it together and enjoy it. They are the typical Bollywood cinema. They are about a family shown all happy together and spreading much love in the beginning. A bunch of songs are thrown in there to show the love and then the turning point occurs which changes the mood of the film. The joy and love soon turn to sorrow. Then a song is thrown in there to show the pain. Finally happy times are back and more songs to signify that. That is the formula for a family film. Baabul pretty follows this formula as designed. Now is this just another family drama or something new that can wow the audience? Well after watching the movie, you can tell it is something you have witnessed before and offers nothing new, but the effort was there. Baabul is an able attempt, but it’s also just another family drama. It has a huge cast, but did not take full advantage of what they had. Basically, Baabul is a movie that was okay and could have been better.
Baabul had much potential because of its large cast as well as its genre. Most of the time, films like this tend to work. The problem with the movie is it does not offer you anything new. We have seen happy families going through tough times many times before in the past. The only way it would work this time is because it has a great cast which can make it watchable. The major flaw of the film has to be running length of the film. It is near three hours long and when you have such a sorrowful movie, three hours is too much time for so many sad occurrences. Granted, the movie does have its light moments in the first half. That is why the first half was somewhat entertaining and you are able to watch it without being bothered. But the second half, after Salman’s death, totally ruins the entire movie. The rest of the way it is just so sorrowful that you can’t help but feel sorry for yourself that you are being put through this. Yes the movie is heavy on emotions, but maybe it is a bit too heavy.
Ravi Chopra weaved magic with his last movie Baghban. One wonders why he couldn’t do the same here with an even better cast. The script obviously was not that strong. He tried giving the movie joy and sorrow, like he did beautifully in Baghban, but it did not work this time around. The problem is he made the first half too feel good while the second half too depressing. We ended up getting the extremes of both emotions, when we should have gotten a little bit of both. The movie takes such a turn in the second half that it ends up hurting the film. It is not only the mood of the second half that ruins the movie, but also the pacing. The second half moves so slowly that it tends to bore you at times. Not only does the film get depressing, but it goes rather slow. That is never a good combination. It is like a slow death. You just want to get it over with instead of staying alive and bearing the pain. After such a great effort with his last film, Ravi Chopra clearly isn’t in form this time around.
The music of the movie as a whole is not too bad. The songs are a mixed bag as they range from really good to snooze fests. The best songs in the movie are Come On Come On and Gaa Re Mann. Both songs were picturized rather lavishly and were a treat to watch. The rest of the songs are not bad as they fit in well in the film and do their job furthering the proceedings. If one thing could have been done, then the song Kehta Hai Baabul should have never been composed. When I was talking about snooze fests I was referring to this song. Thankfully, they decided to put the song with the end credits so you could leave at your will. Seriously why give Mr. Bachchan such a song to sing. Jagjit Singh is understandable since he is accustomed to singing these types of songs, but when you get Mr. Bachchan to sing a song for your movie make sure it’s a good song. It’s a good thing he also sang Come On Come On. That made up for the Ketha Hai Baabul blunder. All in all, a decent soundtrack which has two really good songs, some solid songs, and one horrible one.
The movie’s title refers to the one and only Amitabh Bachchan, and for the God knows how many times, he delivers yet again. Although in the first half, he is overshadowed by the Salman and Rani love story, he completely takes over in the second half. Unfortunately for him, that is the bad half. But he is the main reason this film is watchable because his presence alone can make a crap film an okay one. That is the case with this movie. He rises the film to a standard it had no place to be in. One should never doubt the magic of Amitabh Bachchan. If they do, then watch the climax scene, and you will realize what acting is. He completely blows your mind away with his dialogue delivery in the scene. Also commendable is his on screen chemistry with Salman Khan. They make a great team and it would be wonderful to see the two work again soon. Mr. Bachchan is superb once again as he always is, so there is no surprise factor there. If there is one reason to watch this movie, than the Godfather is the reason.
Hema Malini after such a strong performance in Baghban has nothing to do in this movie. If you were expecting the magical jodi of Amitabh and Hema taking over once again, then you were sadly mistaken. Hema looks as beautiful as ever, but unfortunately that is all she is there for. One would hope she would have some strong scenes like she did in Baghban, but that was not the case. With Rani in the cast, Hema had to take the back seat. Hopefully next time, Hema will get a role that does justice to her.
Salman Khan performs his part well, especially because of so much talent surrounding him. It was evident that Big B’s presence definitely lifted his performance. But in some scenes, he does tend to over do things. But the first half is entertaining because of him, so he deserves credit for that. Too bad he isn’t really there in the second half or else maybe it could have been better. Salman should definitely try to get himself surrounded by great talent instead of trying to carry a film on his own from now on because his performance vastly improves in this case.
Rani Mukherjee offers nothing new with her role. She screams and yells at first, then falls in love, gets knocked up, and does her usual crying. We are accustomed to seeing Rani do all of these things in her movies. But she still does them well. We have seen her do much better for sure, but she still does a good job over here. She definitely needs a new designer and make up artist though because she was looking rather odd in this movie. Maybe she should have hired her buddies from Yash Raj. Her chemistry with Salman is great, but the chemistry with John is non existent. She looks like his older sister rather than his wife. Overall, Rani did what she had to do, and it did not kill the movie.
John Abraham looks totally out of place in the movie. While the rest of the cast fits in rather nicely, John is like the lost boy or something. He looks tired and grimy. Also, it hurts that his pairing with Rani is so wrong. John should have thought twice before signing this movie. It does absolutely nothing for him. A family drama isn’t really his cup of tea, but that doesn’t mean he should stop doing them. He should just do the ones that actually need him.
Om Puri is extremely loud just as his character needed him to be. He plays the big bad brother well, but his loudness does start to get to you at times. But it is obvious that his talents seem to have gone to waste yet again. It seems as if he always gets wasted in big banner movies. It would be better to give great performances in small films, rather than sign big banner movies and not leaving an impact.
Rajpal Yadav is nonexistent in the movie. After the movie is over, you won’t even remember he was in the movie. I actually forgot to add him in the review, but remembered he was in the movie halfway through writing this review. That is how bad his role was in the movie. He is such a damn good actor, that he should not put himself in such situations where he is a forgotten man in the movie. Rajpal is the best character actor in Bollywood today. He should stick to playing characters that we actually remember after the viewing.
Baabul is a family drama that works only because of some really good performances. Other than that, there is nothing new to offer. Also the running length of the movie, as well as the pacing of the movie hurt it really badly. If anything the movie should be watched for the performances, mainly Mr. Bachchan’s. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to get out of their seats right now and go to your nearest theater to watch this. If you are bored one rainy day and have nothing better to do, then go ahead and watch the DVD. That’s all it’s good for anyway. Baabul had big expectations because of the big banner and big cast. It goes to show you, banners and casts don’t always make a film great. Do not watch this one with high expectations.