There is nothing remotely redeemable about this excruciatingly dumb revenge saga, now streaming on ZEE5.
Last Updated: 09.42 AM, Dec 01, 2021
Story: A man sets on the mission to take down a business magnate who had betrayed his father and ruined his family.
Baazi, director Anshuman Pratyush’s Bengali action thriller produced and led by Jeet, is the oldest revenge saga in the book. A young hero, simmering with rage, sets off to avenge his father and the fall of his family fortune. Shah Rukh Khan skyrocketed to stardom with his turn as the bonafide charming revenge hero in Baazigar (1993), and two decades later, regurgitated the same formula in the cringe-worthy comedy Happy New Year (2014). Both the Agneepath’s ( Amitabh Bachchan’s 1990 cult classic, and the 2012 remake, starring Hrithik Roshan) glorified their enraged leading man, who goes on a rampage to destroy their father’s killer.
Jeet (or Superstar Jeet, as Baazi introduces the actor), is the avenging hero of this actioner. But instead of taking the route of intense drama, Baazi settles for a comedic tone. Jeet plays Aditya Mukherjee, who has an affinity for numbers and packing punches. His actions are channelised either through punches or punchlines, and for this self-righteous mathematics and martial arts genius, drunken London lads are the subjects of his rage. He is also a deshbhakt, who breaks into literal chest-thumping episodes, reminding fellow NRI’s in London to always be kind towards their own. But he prefers to deliver his sermons in Bengali, expecting his audience to decipher from context. His family consists of his older brother Bikram (Debdoot Ghosh) and ailing father Rudra Pratap (Abhishek Chatterjee), who looks not a day older than his elder son, save for Sholay’s Thakur-inspired salt-and-pepper mop and grey shawls.
A jaundice-yellow sepia flashback introduces Rudra Pratap in his heydays when he used to be one of the biggest business tycoons of Britain. But a friend-turned-business partner, Krishna Kumar Bardhan (Sabyasachi Chakraborty), betrayed him by taking over his business empire. Rudra Pratap, declared bankrupt and fraud, is forced to flee with his two sons and change his identity. The sob story could have been impactful, but this exposition is contextualised in possibly the crudest terms as is humanly possible. Rudra Pratap declares with a single tear caressing his cheek, that they have had to shift from a 24-room mansion to a humble 4-room bungalow, or that his son has no right to boast about owning a Mercedes because he was chauffeured around in a Bentley as a child. Why Rudra Pratap reveals this life-altering truth is because he has exactly a month to live, and craves that his public izzat be reinstated.
Baazi goes out of its way to present Jeet as the lovable crook, who just happens to stalk women, encourage accidental non-consensual kissing and declare true love for the woman whose father he is about to con. His father is so sanskari, he reminds his son to not break this woman’s trust because she is not the wrongdoer. Aditya also ropes in three people for his mission — but none of these Santa’s helpers ever cross-question the hero’s motives. They are inexplicably efficient at any job handed out to them, be it hacking bank accounts, blocking roads or disabling cars. To call the rest of the characters generic would perhaps be an overstatement. Mimi Chakraborty’s Kyra shows sparks of individuality, but when the description of a character reads as one donning watches and apparel worth crores, and loving her father, it’s evident that the film isn’t too concerned about anyone other than its hero. Make no mistake, she has ample screen time and bearing into the narrative. But even as the end credits roll, you have absolutely no idea about Kyra’s personality beyond that she enjoys dressing up in her finery.
Despite casting veteran actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty as the primary antagonist, the film is determined to paint the characters in the broadest possible strokes. We are told he is impossibly smart, but his cockiness lands as subtly as a sledgehammer. The cartoonish roars of laughter undermine any gravitas that the actor brings to the poorly written character.
The film also is strangely fixated on blue CGI butterflies. They are supposed to signify something, but have positively eluded this writer. The rest of the movie follows the commercial movie template like the Bible. There are romantic and heartbreak songs, mind-numbingly loud background score and action sequences that could have been lifted from any other Jeet actioner and one would not know the difference.
Verdict: There is nothing remotely redeemable about Baazi. The film released in theatres during Durga Puja weekend to milk Jeet’s popularity in West Bengal. The strategy is understandable, and the film has evidently pumped enough cash into making the film appear visually stunning. There are also ample slow-motion action and low-angle shots to establish the heroism of the hero. But like Salman Khan’s mass entertainer Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai, viewing Baazi on OTT, where there is an abundance of quality content to be inundated with, feels like a self-inflicted lobotomy. It’s unbearable.