(2010) Action Replayy Reviews
IndiaGlitz Review – Action Replayy – A clean fun musical entertainer
‘Action Replayy’ is one film which is arriving as an underdog this Diwali. The film doesn’t scream and excites audience by proclaiming – ‘Hey, look I am cool’ or ‘See, Akshay Kumar would be seen as a Mr. Smart Know All’ once again’ or ‘The gags are such that you would fall off your seats’. Instead it does it all in a subtle manner when it comes to treatment though the look of the film does gain audience attention, courtesy the 70s setting that had a psychedelic flavour to it.
No wonder, when the curtains go up, the film begins and a few minutes later, Akshay is introduced as a nerd from the 70s, everyone collectively goes ‘eeks’ along with his son (Aditya Roy Kapoor) who has made a visit to the past. Forget the flamboyance or the energy that one expects from Akshay Kumar, he actually gets into a garb as never worn before. Donning an ill fitting ‘kurta-pyajama’, a pair of TV screen style glasses, a ‘champu’ haircut, an awkward walk and last but the most visible aspect of his personality – two protruding teeth, Akshay is as unlike a hero as one can expect from him or any other supporting actor filling a frame.
Vipul Shah gets the retro flavour bang on right from the time opening credits start rolling. The anthem music, background score, colours, costumes, sets, props – everything blends in truly well to actually traverse audience to the era gone by.
This is not all as the characters too turn into the kind that one expects from the 70s. Aishwarya Rai as a talkative mini skirted young tomboyish girl could well have taken a cue from Neetu Singh, Rannvijay Singh as a harmless villain is a diluted version of Ranjeet & Prem Chopra while Rajpal Yadav is a mini version of the boisterous Rajendra Nath. However, Akshay does something that has never been done by an actor either from the 70s or the current times and this is where the win of the character lies.
So while Aditya tries to develop love between next door neighbours Akshay and Aishwarya, everything that is possibly goes wrong between the duo. A street-smart Ash makes life miserable for Akshay and though he has a soft corner for her, he manages to let go off his feelings when he sees her get out of a mini skirt and don a saree. His heart goes ‘dhak dhak’ and he is all set to propose to her, but not before he goes through some real transformation. It is time for some ‘awaaz neeche’ and the game of one-upmanship as he is the one to take the upper seat now with Ash eventually falling in love with her.
A storyline as simple as that has to be sustained by peppering the screen with some interesting ingredients. This is something that is made possible through some fantastic tunes that have been put in place by Pritam. ‘Zor Ka Jhatka’, ‘Chann Ke Mohalla’ and ‘Ae Bekhabar’ arrive one after another and are a treat for the audience. There is a medley of four songs (set in a dance competition) in the second half of the film which is immediately followed by a love song (Tera Mera Pyaar); something that will have mixed reactions from audience as there are too many songs that come in one go.
This is immediately followed by a chase sequence, hence leading to a climax which seems to be set in a Priyadarshan/Anees Bazmee mode. For those who had liked the subtle yet engaging narrative of the film so far, this part of the film has a different flavour to it, something that may entice different reactions from different segments (mass v/s class) of the audience.
Coming back to the film in totality, to its credit there is no dull moment. While some of the fun sequences (Akshay proposing to Ash for the first time in a garden, the series of ‘awaaz neeche’ episodes, the one where Ash brings a cake for Akshay) do bring on the laughs, there are a few lump in the throat moments as well (Akshay touching Aditya’s feet, his sob story on the reason behind his personality). What makes ‘Action Replayy’ further endearing is the chemistry between Akshay and Ash, something which is unconventional and yet makes one wonder that why the two had never been paired together.
Amongst other actors, Aditya turns out to be a surprise package as he does justice to his lengthy role in the film. He has a pleasant screen presence, is confident and quite natural. Om Puri and Kirron Kher are as usual, Rajpal Yadav is controlled, Rannvijay Singh decent while Randhir Kapoor and Sudeepa Singh are hardly there. Neha Dhupia has a miniscule screen time in a friendly appearance though she makes her presence felt in ‘Zor Ka Jhatka’.
Overall, ‘Action Replayy’ turns out to be a clean musical entertainer that has a young feel to it without turning loud and brings with it an appeal that would cater to audience across all age groups. If in look out for some clean entertainment this Diwali, step into ‘Action Replayy'; you would enjoy some harmless fun that would follow in those two hours.
Back To The Future anyone? The credits might say that Action Replayy is based on a Gujarati play by the same name but in reality it’s a rehash of the Back To The Future (1985), starring Michael J Fox. In the original, Fox had to make sure his parents meet, fall in love and marry. Here, the onus falls on debutant Aditya Roy Kapoor. Despite the whacky plot, you liked the film because of Fox’s superlative acting. Well, in the Hindi version it’s Akshay who endears you with his antics.
It’s not the Khiladi kumar, the action star Akshay or the slapstick version of Akshay that you get to see but an actor who is thoroughly enjoying his role. You like him when you see him affect a swagger. You like him when his legs are shaking when he puts on a facade of false bravado. And you like him when, like everyone else in ihe audience, he seems thoroughly smitten by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Ms Bachchan too knows she’s playing an archetypical tomboy. She makes sure she doesn’t turn into a caricature but infuses flesh and blood into her character. The duo do have enough on-screen chemistry to keep you interested and you wonder why they haven’t done many more films together.
Director Vipul Shah has created a ’70s that’s quite filmy. The streets are squeaky clean and everyone wears the Manish Malhotra version of ’70s clothes. He does spoof filmy norms but with a reverential touch. And when he borrows from films – like the song duel from Hum Kisise Kaum Naheen (1977) – he doesn’t just copy paste from the original but adds his own touch.
The dialogue is crisp and so is the editing. It’s the screenplay which lets you down. One wishes Shah had made it more taut and less ‘hole-some’. But overall, the film does raise a fair share of laughs. And, to be fair, it is free of toilet humour which has become the byword for comedy in recent times. With a little more effort, it could have become a cult classic but that’s neither here nor there.
Baradwaj Rangan Review
NOV 7, 2010 – A TITLE CARD AT THE OUTSET insists that Vipul Shah’s Action Replayy is based on the Gujarati play of the same name – in other words, it’s not Back to the Future, as we’d surmised from the previews. But after the obligatory eye roll, this does turn out somewhat true. Despite the premise of a boy (Bunty, played by Aditya Roy Kapur) hurtling back in time and matchmaking for his mismatched parents, there is very little that hints at the earlier (and utterly endearing) sci-fi smash. Everything happens too easily. There’s none of the nail-biting tension of fracturing the space-time continuum and ceasing to exist. There isn’t, either, the sense of powerlessness borne by the protagonist, a stranger in a strange town hoping to be accepted without being asked dangerous questions. There isn’t even the suspense of locating the long-ago version of the mad scientist (Randhir Kapoor, as a character named Anthony Gonsalves; cue another obligatory eye roll) and convincing him to repair the contraption that facilitated Bunty’s time travel, a vaguely metallic ovoid that, in mid-flight, looks nothing so much as a bug attempting to ascend to the heavens by lighting its own farts.
All of which begs the not insignificant question: Why employ the framing device from Back to the Future? Why go back in time at all? Why not have Bunty attempt to reconcile his aging parents – Kishan (Akshay Kumar) and Mala (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) – in the present, after they storm off in opposite directions to match their opposing stances in the miserable marriage they’re trapped in? Why not hatch a series of amusing plot contrivances to unite a couple in the sunset of life? The answer is twofold. One, the paying public (presumably) does not care to spend a couple of hours with a liver-spotted hero and a gracefully graying heroine. But more importantly, staying contemporary would not allow for a segue into Bollywood’s ongoing obsession with the seventies, hinted at during the opening credits with bongos, trumpets and other brassy enablers of Eastman-Colour nostalgia.
The latter, essentially, is the reason for this film’s being – with bad clothes, loud colours, crazy accessories, shag haircuts and occasionally, very occasionally, a splash of genuine wistfulness (like the mom-and-pop eatery echoing with Karvatein badalte rahe instead of a Café Coffee Day with piped muzak.) The recent Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai visited the same era with far greater style, with far more restraint. Here, everything looks shiny and new. We don’t dissolve imperceptibly into the past, as we would when we travel back in time in our mind’s eye; we sit squarely in the present watching a pageant pretending to be the past. There’s no surprise in the storytelling, no joy in the performances –background is explained, plot points are carried forward, and every other shot appears to be a reaction shot, cuing us on what to think, how to feel. Who are these people portrayed by Neha Dhupia, Om Puri and Kirron Kher? In a more involving movie we might care. Here, we simply wait for the central couple to bury their differences so their future son can return to the present and we can return to our homes.
Shah would probably argue that the gags are all that matter, that too much is being made of the lack of everything else. I suppose that argument would hold water for those who find it funny that the heroine of Murder is referred to as Mallika Sharbat. The rest of us have to contend with Kundan Lal (Rannvijay Singh), a singer named after a singer, capable of voicing both male and female portions of a duet – this led to my sole laugh-out-loud moment, hinged on a composition from Jewel Thief. Elsewhere, my thoughts kept wandering to the frankly amazing career of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. There have been actresses earlier, like Nutan and later Kajol, who’ve pursued significant post-marriage careers, but none – to my mind – as a still-glamorous leading lady. The telltale lines on her throat are beginning to resemble age rings on a redwood, mocking time and making little difference to her survival. In the Bekhabar song sequence, she shimmies about in the kind of polka-dotted sari favoured by those tawny models with mile-high waists in the Khatau calendars I recall from the barbershops of my childhood. That might be the only time I was truly transported to the seventies, and in those all-too-brief minutes, banality gave way to beauty.
One of my biggest filmi wishes is to be able to see some of the classic Bollywood films on the big screen, in the way they were intended to be seen. While a DVD and a small screen is fine for certain films, things like Wake Up Sid that almost have a television screen feel to them, I know that films like Sholay and Karz lose something in the transition to the living room. Picture Sholay with the big open vistas actually appearing big and open; Gabbar Singh 12 feet tall dragging his belt, sending chills down your spine. You can’t pause to go get snacks and you can’t switch to a different window to check your e-mail. You just sit, absorbed in the experience, and let all the worries of daily life drift out of your mind.
I love seeing films in the theater. I love hearing the crowd laugh at the jokes and sniff tears back at the sad scenes. There is something visceral about seeing a film in the theater that is really missing from a living room DVD experience.
Alas, Bollywood has, for the most part, stopped making films to be seen in the theater and has started making films that play best on television and in-flight screens. The picturizations are designed to be seen on MTV India and youtube, not projected 20 feet tall. One of the things I loved about Endhiran was that it WAS meant to be seen in a theater, surrounded by a crowd of Superstar Rajini fans. And the point of all this introductory rambling is that Action Replayy felt like 1970s Bollywood film in that way, too.
Action Replayy is not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination. The plot makes absolutely no sense and leaves a ton of loose threads hanging. Former “London Dreams” band member Aditya Roy Kapoor plays Bunty, the son of eternally bickering parents (Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai). Now, Bunty’s girlfriend Tanya (an emaciated looking Sudeepa Singh) keeps trying to get him to marry her but he keeps refusing because his parents’ marriage is so terrible. Also, she has a wacky uncle (Randhir Kapoor!) who built a time machine… you can see where this is going. Bunty hijacks the time machine to travel back to the 1970s in order to fix his parents’ marriage before it starts.
That is the main premise of the film and everything relating to it is awful. I hated both Bunty and Tanya and Randhir Kapoor has about three lines in the film and delivers them all as if he is reading a cue card.
Now, that being said, this narrative set up takes up only a small amount of screentime and the real meat of the film – the emotional narrative between Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai – is actually very touching and the movie becomes a lot of fun once we get past Bunty and his trite drama. The performances from all the ‘older generation’ in the 1970s were fantastic; Akshay, Aishwarya, Neha Dhupia, Rannvijay Singh, Om Puri, Kirron Kher, and Rajpal Yadav put on a great show.
I can’t say enough good things about Akshay and Aishwarya – they knocked it out of the park. Here is a 30-something woman and a 40-something man who managed to believably play both a 60-something couple and two carefree youngsters. The body language, the facial expressions, the dancing – everything was excellent.
One of the things I really love about Akshay Kumar is his ability to shapeshift into a role. His character of Kishen Kumar is a wimpy, nerdy, butt-ugly, but sensitive man and Akshay morphs into the role so seamlessly that I was actually kind of shocked to see the Tees Maar Khan trailer at the interval where he plays such a different character. I had gotten so involved with nerdy Kishen Kumar that I had kind of forgotten that Akshay can be all buff and sexy.
And if this year has proven anything to me, it’s that I love watching Aishwarya Rai do her thing. Everything I’ve seen her in this year has been great – Raavanan, Endhiran, and now Action Replayy. Her character of Mala is the classic bullying pretty girl with a soft center but Aishwarya gives her a little extra sparkle and depth. Plus, she looks fantastic in all those 1970s outfits. The bellbottomed trousers do amazing things to her, um, “rear view.”
You understand why Mala is annoyed with the wet dishrag Kishen and then you understand why she falls for him.
The supporting players are great, too. I always like Neha Dhupia and she does her usual excellent job here. I will never understand why she hasn’t been able to burst through to the top tier of mainstream actresses. She’s a much better actress than some of the other former Miss Indias floating around Yash Raj studios. Kirron Kher and Om Puri should have had more screen time, as per usual, but the one guy who really surprised me was former VJ Rannvijay Singh. His character is a ridiculous combination of Ranjeet and vintage Johnny Lever but he really pulls it off. If Bollywood doesn’t snatch him up, I hope he gets some offers from down South where he can join Rahul Dev and Sonu Sood in the Northern Villains’ Club.
But to bring this back around to my intro, what really makes Action Replayy worth seeing in the theater is the 1970s feel of it. The wide vistas of the song picturizations are meant to be seen projected 20 feet tall. And the set design and costume design is a lot of fun – those colors really pop. There is a scene set against all of these multi-colored lanterns that is mind bogglingly fun to watch and another set in the perfect Yash Raj mountains that would be so dull on a small screen, where you can’t feel the majesty of the surrounds.
Most importantly, perhaps, there is a sequence that I don’t really want to spoil if you haven’t seen the film, but it recalls a most beloved section of the film Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin… okay, I’ll just say it – there is a Singing Contest. With backup dancers. And disco balls.
Action Replayy is not a great film but it is a fun and entertaining film. The romance is very, very sweet and the visuals are bright and eye-popping. If you are a 1970s film fan and can handle some nonsensical plotting, a handful of ‘women trap you into marriage’ song lyrics, and full-on Akshay Kumar, then I highly recommend you go see this in the theater!
Don’t wait for the DVD – it won’t be the same.