Anthony D’Souza, who made an inauspicious debut with the dull diving movie Blue, joins a growing list of Hindi filmmakers seeking to line their biodatas with faithful remakes of hit southern titles. Prabhudeva, for one, has established his dubious directing career in Hindi by photocopying Tamil and Telugu blockbusters. D’Souza gets director’s credit on Boss, the official reboot of the hit Malayalam film Pokkiri Raja, but the only name that matters in the list of credits is Anal Arasu, the action director who comes up with new ways to bash in people’s heads, crush their limbs and contort their bodies beyond recognition.
There’s enough bone-shattering violence in Boss to make you wonder about the film’s UA certificate. Forget the children, whose innocence might be lost forever after sitting through over 2 hours of action sequences strung together in a semblance of a plot, and spare a thought for the grown-ups. The dialogue, by lousy punning specialists Farhad-Sajid, is juvenile; the actors go through the motions; the action wouldn’t look like anything if it ran at its normal speed instead of in slow motion.
Boss is the story of a delinquent who loses his upright father’s respect after a series of violent incidents and ends up as the protégé of the don Big Boss (Danny Denzongpa). The dark-skinned teenager grows up into the fair-skinned Akshay Kumar, just one of the many miracles this film conjures up. Boss, as he is known, is a Robin Hood-esque figure who helps the poor while living in a Rajasthani haveli surrounded by men in purple suits with keffiyehs around their shoulders. Boss is contracted to kill Shiv (Shiv Pandit) who turns out to be his long-lost brother. Shiv’s crime is that he has fallen in love with the sister of a psychotic cop (Ronit Roy), who wants to marry her off to the buffoonish son of a corrupt minister. And on it goes, the 144 minutes zipping by but finally screeching to a halt in the overstretched climax, which ladles out some hoo-haa about family values.
The only bold move in an otherwise smug, by-the-numbers movie is the absence of a romantic interest for Boss. Akshay Kumar’s XXL-sized comic timing serves him well in some of the action comedy sequences, but fitness levels can never replace genuine acting skills. The rest of the cast picks up their paycheques, and only Ronit Roy seems to be making an effort to be serious amid the clowning. Roy’s ability to generate dread, which has already become too pat to be as frightening as it was when first seen in Udaan in 2010, is a wasted effort.
The action-comedy category, characterized by such films as Wanted, Singham and Rowdy Rathore, is primarily aimed at boosting the careers of the marquee male stars who headline them. Every actor who isn’t the ubermensch that no force in the world can withstand doesn’t need to bother. Why then should audiences? Life is short—and expensive. Take a walk in the park instead.