If you really are a film lover, you know the difference between trash and art—and in both you find joy. Something in a stupid, empty film can force a chuckle out of you, even a sigh-inducing uplift, and transport you for a moment from the dull funk of life. If you submit, and suspend disbelief, you can be surprised.
Bad trash: Kambakkht Ishq is another failure of producer Sajid Nadiadwala.
We, Bollywood lovers, go a step further with this ‘suspension of disbelief’ idea. Not only do we know the difference between trash and art, but unfortunately also between trash and bad trash. Your examples in all these categories might be different from mine, but just so you know exactly what I’m talking about, trash is Kunal Kohli’s Fanaa, art is Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya, bad trash is Anees Bazmee’s No Entry. All three kinds work at the box office, there is no formula.
Bollywood bad trash is difficult to digest even on days you’re bored and lonely, when there are no possibilities anywhere else. But when bad trash is soaked in lush cinematography, set in the best cities in the world, but riddled with the worst kind of stereotypes and the most sordid brand of humour, you want to run.
I didn’t walk out of the theatre after watching Kambakkht Ishq last night, I ran. My evening needed desperate mending.
Sajid Nadiadwala, the producer of Kambakkht Ishq, is known for many bad trash movies that have worked well at the box office: Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Jaan-E-Man, Hey Babyy, etc. The buzz around this one has been building up since last year, with news of Sylvester Stallone playing a cameo (Incidentally, in the title sequence, Pooja Batra gets the credit of “securing Hollywood talent”; and the entire film looks at Hollywood with imbecile awe and wonder). Its budget is more than Rs50 crore. After all the talk of it being the blockbuster of the year, Kambakkht Ishq is without doubt the most asinine and offensive film of the year.
It will perhaps make the money considering this is just the second big release of the year after New York and because a Kareena-Akshay film is bound to ooze star appeal.
Akshay Kumar was a rumbustious sardar in Singh is Kingg, his trump card of 2008; then there was Chandni Chowk to China where he was a stuntman, and which bombed at the box office. He needs this hit. But even though this does become one, what really can it do for Akshay? I think not much. Comic timing and physical stunts don’t make a real star, Akshay needs some desperate measures.
Kareena, a fine actress when she wants to be (as in Omkara), must have done the role of Simrita in Kambakkht Ishq for the money alone. This has to be one of the most puerile, and offensive female characters ever written.
Viraj Shergill (Akshay Kumar) is a Hollywood stuntman always surrounded by skinny, pouty white women. He treats them like human gadgets—leaving one behind in a bath tub by mistake, running over one while driving a convertible, and making promises of “golden babies” to one (Denise Richards playing herself). He is also a misogynist, brainwashing his brother and sidekick played by Aftab Shivadasani into teaching his wife (Amrita Arora, either screechy or whiny) a lesson about chauvinism. In one of the very first scenes of the film, the couple’s wedding party, a farcical comedy of situations erupts, where women are slapped, dragged and leered at by an ugly man on viagra. You cringe, fume, vomit.
Viraj lives in a plush villa in Hollywood and later wins an award for his work as a stuntman presented to him by Sylvester Stallone.
Simrita (Kareena Kapoor), a medical student training to be a surgeon, can pay for her education because she is a model. She hates men and is the best friend of the whiny wife. In the first half hour itself, the battle of the sexes begin, and then snowballs into bizarre situations, absurd dialogues and a ridiculous climax. I doubt if the most seasoned trash aficionado will be amused by this film.
The stereotyping is cruel and doesn’t justify any attempt at humour. For some reason, throughout the film, Sim (Simrita) hates stuntmen and her litany against them—“low class, fake, secondhand”—are emphasized by loud, uneven dialogue delivery. Director Shabbir Khan obviously has no control over any of the performances.
All men or women of colour are either oversized monsters or street goons or tramps. In one of the most outrageous scenes of the film, Viraj is thrashed around by an oversized black woman after he is suspected of being a drug peddler.
Give Kambakkht Ishq a miss. When it’s raining hard and you’ve just survived a pay cut, this is not the movie you go to watch—you’ll be insulted and crudely affronted.
Kambakkht Ishq released in theatres on 3 July.