Sunday, June 10, 2012

Malayalam director Siddique's Bodyguard's realistic twist to romance a damp squib

The Malayalam film, like its Bengali counterpart, has a tradition and a certain flair for realism, some kind of true-to-life stuff. Handled well in their own milieu, the theme works even when it is a love story. Hindi cinema on the other hand has a tradition of pure romance which rings true when it is the most improbable as in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi starring Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma. But when a Priyadarshan or a Siddique brings in the Malayalam realistic touch to Mumbai-made film romance it becomes an odd dish, neither fish or fowl. That is the problem with Malayalam director Siddique's Bodyguard, whose Hindi version has Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor in the lead. Salman is a fine actor, especially in romantic roles. He gives it an authentic note beyond the reach of many of his colleagues in the Mumbai film world. But of late he has been blunting that subtle touch with silly gym-culture as a result of which he looks like a clone of a Arnold Schwarzenegger or a Sylvester Stallone. That reduces Salman Khan from being a sensitive actor to a caricature of himself. He was looking a caricature of himself in the film Ready, with Asin Thotamkoolam as his heroine. Despite the small window of opportunity that director Siddique provides to him to play the romantic hero, he gives it an amazingly natural touch. Of course, there are the armies of inane critics who think Salman Khan cannot act because they have no notion of what romantic love is. But Siddique and others want to use Salman as some sort of a Hercules/Herakles without the Greek mythical figures tragic sense. Then there is the curse of computer-aided special effects, a stupid imitation of Matrix-like fighting scenes, which have lost the magic because of unimaginative overuse by directors of Indian films.

In spite of these imaginative constraints imposed on the film by Siddque, there are moments when the film soars into the empyrean of romance when Divya (Kareena Kapoor) assumes the persona of  'Chaya' and Lovely Singh (Salman Khan) the Bodyguard. But the romantic relationship takes a bizarre realistic turn in the end, where a silly tragedy has to occur before the lovers can get together. That is due to the misconceived Malayalam sensibility of realism grafted on to Mumbai-made Hindi film romance. That is why, Bodyguard despite a lovely performance by Kareena Kapoor and by Salman Khan when is not Shwarzenegger-Stallone clone, Bodyguard turns out to be a romantic dud.

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