In his new film Kick, superstar Salman Khan plays an ingenuous thief. Besides knocking down alcohol shots with his father (Mithun Chakraborty) and being fed milk by his mother (Archana Puran Singh) after he has passed out drunk, his character, Devi Lal Singh, falls in love with Shaina (Jacqueline Fernandez), an “English" girl (which, in the film, means a girl who can speak English).

Shaina can’t fathom what gives her boyfriend the “kicks". In the confusion, they break up. Later, Shaina is shown to be in Warsaw, where her family wants her to marry Himanshu (Randeep Hooda), a police officer who is in search of a thief, in whom he has met his match. Devil or Devi Lal arrives in Warsaw to rob the Indian health minister’s nephew (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) of the crores he has accumulated in bribe.

Why rob? There is, of course, a superhero and philanthrope in Devil.

The mythologizing and solipsism in the portrayal of the hero chasing his “kicks" is vulgar. It helps Khan that the director, Sajid Nadiawala, completely lacks any individual stamp or vision. The film is in any case a remake of the Telugu film of the same name.

How hard can it be to tell a Salman Khan fan what an extraordinary messiah Devil, and in turn, the real man is? Towards the end, the film almost looks and sounds like an ad for Being Human, the successful high-street brand owned by the actor.

The slide below mediocrity begins as soon as the film begins. After the big bang entry of the hero, the mindless, sexist humour tumbles out without any logic. Fernandez’s role becomes thinner as the film progresses and her dance moves are unable to hide the really pained expression she has throughout the film when a scene demands some acting.

In the middle, some impressive action sequences explode on screen—chases, car crashes and blow-ups in which the hero, who we are told is a cerebral and versatile young man who was awarded many prizes and certificates in college days, takes centre stage.

Refreshingly, the villain is not part of any of these action sequences. Siddiqui holds his own as a misanthrope and killer obsessed with money, playing the role with a lot of relish. Hooda as the police officer has an important role, but sadly he too has to end it with a frothy ode to “bhai".

With Kick, Salman Khan, the do-gooder actor from Bandra, Mumbai, is one with the screen hero, to be understood by the heart, and not the head (“Dil mein aata hoon, samajh mein nahin").

May the fandom swell. Just don’t count this as cinema.

Kick released in theatres on Friday.

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