Walking into the theatre, I kept hoping that â€śBaabulâ€ť would be as engrossing as Ravi Chopraâ€™s last outing, â€śBaghbanâ€ť, if not more. Being a sucker for emotional flicks and a die-hard fan of the school of family filmmaking, I was looking forward to a fun time and went in ready with tissues expecting some sobbing moments (Yes folks! Boys cry as well!). Boy! I was wrong!
The theatre was pretty comfortable: good seats, big screen, and great sound. Yet the three hours I spent in there turned out to be extremely painful, for what unfolded on screen was akin to sitting in a busy Toronto emergency room waiting for the doctor, watching all the other patients panting and pacing restlessly in front of you. I experienced the urge to do some diagnosis of my own and prescribe some remedial tips for all involved with this challenged-for-soul movie. So let us start off with a brief description of the patient:
Name: Baabul Age: Born in the 1950â€™s and witnessed time and time again through the 70â€™s and the 80â€™s.
â€śBaabulâ€ť suffers from what is called, â€śScriptlessititusâ€ť, a common syndrome witnessed in Hindi movies where the symptoms include lack of characterization, clichĂ©d dialogues, irritating situations and an extremely featureless treatment. A more serious bout of Scriptlessititus, further leads to a movieâ€™s inability to communicate with its audiences and sadly, thatâ€™s exactly what happens here. â€śBaabulâ€ť is a dying patient, and a very weak one at that. Ravi Chopra surely must have meant well, but the movie just doesnâ€™t connect with its viewers. Dialogues, barring the penultimate scenes, fail to stir the spirit, characters are underdeveloped to say the least, and direction is plain mediocre. The theme of widow remarriage, as old-fashioned as it may sound, holds unlimited potential to pack an unending supply of heart-wrenching emotions and soul-pounding lines even for todayâ€™s urban audiences â€“ yet â€śBaabulâ€ť fails on that account as well. The reason why â€śBaghbanâ€ť worked, despite its recycled theme, was because each and every sequence by Mr. Chopra was a masterstroke, the emotional quotient was exceedingly overwhelming, and the characters, despite their woeful circumstances, appeared dignified and managed to break the usual stereotype that often handicaps Hindi film characters. But with â€śBaabulâ€ť, Mr. Chopra takes one huge step back and bundles in every clichĂ© thinkable, every trite situation conceivable and every stale sequence of dialogues humanly possible. Additionally, the characters are as stereotypical as they come and donâ€™t really help the movie rise above the plunging depths of mediocrity.
Now lets talks about the people associated with â€śBaabulâ€ť and see what this doctor can recommend for them to break away from the effects of Scriptlessititus.
Now to you Mr. Aadesh Shrivastava: You may want to boost off your musical prowess on â€śrealityâ€ť music shows but from what I heard in â€śBaabulâ€ť, your music seemed just as fake. You surely did a good job with â€śBawari Piya Kiâ€ť, but it seemed like you handed over the reigns of composing the remaining tracks to one of the contestants on the show you served as a musical mentor on. As for the writer, Dr. Achala Nagar, I can only say that this patient of yours named â€śBaabulâ€ť has died an untimely death, not for the severity of its ailment, but for your inept care and therapy. Being a fellow doctor, my prescription for you includes a strong suggestion that you go back to doing what you do best and leave screenwriting to the more qualified.
For Mr. Godfrey Gonzalvez, the editor, I recommend that you buy a new, sharper pair of scissors and whenever John Abraham comes on screen, just chop the whole scene off. Now to the onscreen performers, beginning with Mr. Bachchanâ€™s Balraj Kapoor: Although the script doesnâ€™t serve you well Sir, you have done all you could with this role. You play the title character, but surprisingly, for most of the movie, are relegated to the background. Whenever given the opportunity to force your way into the proceedings, you have done great work, as you always do. For you I would prescribe: 1- More movies with Salman as you guys rock the screen whenever pitted together; 2- Keep playing such roles for thereâ€™s no one who can do it better than you.
Will Ms. Rani Mukherjee please stand up? First things first, your character just doesnâ€™t evoke sympathy. Not entirely your fault as you can always blame it on the script, but how about improvising a bit and at least trying to rise above a spineless character? In â€śBaabulâ€ť, you do what you have been doing for ages now.Your Malvika seemed aesthetically-challenged for most part and your horrendous choice of makeup and outfits made your amateurish paintings look better. For you, this doctor prescribes 1- An immediate switch to a new dress designer as your garish outfits donâ€™t help your cause, 2- You might want to consider a new aesthetician and finally, 3- How about spending a couple of hours with an actual golf expert and at least making your swing a bit more resembling to that of a Golf proâ€™s daughter? After all, it is all about getting into the skin of the character, isnâ€™t it?
Ms. Hema Malini a.k.a. Shobhna Kapoor: Maâ€™am, I am sure that you knew from the very beginning that you wouldnâ€™t have much to do in the movie. However, your role could have been much more substantial and stronger. As for prescribing something for you, if I were you, I would use some Strepsils or Halls before mouthing those emotional lines.
Mr. John Abraham, you did manage to make my friend exclaim, â€śHe is so Hotâ€ť every time you popped up on the screen. I am not sure if the same could be said about your performance as Rajat. Playing the guy who always gets to be the best man, but never the groom, your good boy act just didnâ€™t go down well with me at all. Letâ€™s just say that your acting is as good as your dancing â€“ go figure! For you, this doctor prescribes, 1- Some shaving foam, 2- A nice shaving razor preferably with 4 blades and 3- A Career change.
Mr. Om Puri, I must first congratulate you for you are the first person who has single handedly managed to put todayâ€™s high-tech, high-powered Dolby Digital sound systems to shame. For a moment I really thought that the loudness in your voice will blow the ceiling up, tear the walls apart and will bury us all in the ruins of what once used to be a multiplex theatre. Even the high Dolby standards were no match for your intensely earsplitting vocals. For you Mr. Puri, this doctor prescribes, 1- Watching â€śBaabulâ€ť in a theatre to realize what I went through every time you mouthed those loud lines; 2- If not for us, think of those little children who would not be able to sleep at night fearing youâ€™ll pop out of nowhere screaming, frightening their little, innocent lives out of them; and 3- Please donâ€™t reduce yourself to such inconsequential roles as you have done a lot better than this.
For the hoards of character actors who pretty much make blink-and-miss appearances in the movie, this doctor can only say one thing â€“ for Godâ€™s sake get a casting agent!
And finally for all those planning to experience â€śBaabulâ€ť, this doctor suggests staying home and watching â€śBaghbanâ€ť instead because with â€śBaabulâ€ť, Mr. Chopraâ€™s intentions are clearly there, his execution is not.
This doctorâ€™s shift is now over.