(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, dated 3 October, 2011, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/entertainment/reviews/force/319864.html)
Cast: John Abraham, Vidyut Jamwal, Genelia D’Souza, Raj Babbar
Director: Nishikanth Kamath
Rating: 0.5 stars for content, 5 stars for entertainment
It would be hard for any lead pair to do worse than Suriya’s single wooden expression and Jyotika’s four. But in the Hindi remake of Kakka Kakka, John Abraham and Genelia D’Souza underperform with élan.
We’re introduced to an orgy of bad acting when John Abraham, bleeding from several orifices, climbs down a cliff and demonstrates a set of facial tics. Flashback begins. We see Maya (Genelia D’Souza) through his eyes.
She delights in washing her face every morning. She owns a scooter and a car, and she gestures a lot to kids, misleading the audience into thinking she works at a deaf-mute school. It turns out she teaches some indiscernible dance form, which she herself doesn’t seem to be particularly good at.
In the meanwhile, the camera focuses on an advertisement for Streax, and on a tube of Fast Relief, and establishes the film as one that could give Viruddh – remember the John Abraham-Amitabh Bachchan starrer that sank without a trace? – a run for its money where in-film branding’s concerned. At one point, when Maya twirls around in a kurta, you half-expect to her to slip, so you can read ‘Kilol’ or ‘Fab India’ on the label.
We find out John Abraham is Yashvardhan, a cop who has a penchant for going to meet the bad guys without backup, and throwing bikes at them when he could shoot them instead.
Their paths cross when he’s beating someone to pulp outside the auditorium where she flounces about. She gasps. He gapes, apparently heartbroken at a stranger witnessing his muscle power. Since he’s from the Narcotics Control Bureau, and she looks like a user, you expect opposites to attract. Not so fast.
They bump into each other several times – he in a sleeveless vest that shows off his waxed-and-tattooed arms, she in mismatched capris and kurtas that distract from her widening eyes. She only gets drawn to him after he forgives a geeky friend of hers for “taking a girl alone to a night show late at night, not carrying any insurance papers, and trying to move a police barricade”. Once he has Maya’s name and address, Yashvardhan loses interest in her, and goes about his business of hunting the dealers.
He and the nameless, henna-haired zonal head (played by Raj Babbar, whom I didn’t recognise until he growled, “how dear he?” after a cop gets killed) recruit three other officers to sniff out the bad guys. Aided by a lisping informer, they hunt down the usual suspects – a religious Afghan Muslim, a turbaned Sikh, a group of Eastern Europeans, and a Gujarati villager. Carrying guns in much the same way that seven-year-old boys would brandish toy swords, they get most of the hardened villains to surrender either by throwing Molotov cocktails into their homes, or threatening to shoot them.
But one is elusive – a saffronised South Indian. You figure out he’s South Indian when his Nepali-featured younger brother Vishnu (Vidyut Jamwal) addresses him as “anna” during a phone call. Vishnu then beats up a bunch of Kenyans who’re holding him hostage, and arrives at Vishakapatnam by motorboat from Mombasa. They are the Reddy brothers. Yes, as if to avenge forty years of Hindi-speaking villains in Telugu cinema, the makers of Force have put in Hindi-speaking Telugu antagonists.
As the four chase drug trails, Maya begins to stalk “ACP Sir”. Between calling him up to handle a gang of amateur eve-teasers and twitching her face in a manner that brings to mind Sri Devi’s character from Sadma (Moonram Pirai), she gets so annoying that one is relieved when a car runs her down. However, far from putting her into a coma, the event seems to have been designed only for the producers to showcase Seven Hills Hospitals. The audience begins to giggle when Yashvardhan self-consciously wipes a tear from his eye at the sight of Maya in a hospital bed. Oh, yeah, he cradles her head in an ambulance, instead of testifying in a crucial case – but they win anyway.
They make fraandship. They take a bus – despite the profusion of vehicles they own – to a remote country house, comfortably located at the edge of a cliff for the climactic scene. He says, “I had a great time, thanks” after she recounts childhood trips to the place with her now-dead parents. She says she loves him, and sexually harasses him into submission over the next few days. Aside from beating up the bad guys, Yashvardhan’s only accomplishment in the movie is losing his virginity.
Before you know it, Khwaabon Khwaabon – the Hindi version of Uyirin Uyire – disorients you with the same music, scenes, and choreography. Well, almost. Genelia, with a relatively svelter figure, looks less ridiculous doing the frog jump. John’s modesty is assaulted by a group of ballet dancers, wearing cholis and tutus. Tellingly, when the song ends, the camera cuts to someone yelling “yeh sab bakhwaas hai!”
Now that his love life’s sorted out, Yashvardhan is free to track down the baddies. As he and his three stooges veer around corners at an angle, glaring into nothingness, their machismo clearly induced by a gaggle of silly wives and persistent gym trainers, you know you’re waiting for the villain to slaughter the lot. Apart from a couple of well-timed one-liners from Kamlesh Sawant, the comic relief lies largely in the execution of the murders in the movie.
As the climax approaches, the audience is rooting for Vidyut Jamwal, who turns in the only credible performance in the film. The final fight is a lesson in carnal fulfilment, as two men with arguably the best muscles in Bollywood tear into each other at a butcher shop. The much-objectified John Abraham is off the spotlight for about ten seconds, when the focus is on Vidyut Jamwal’s bleeding abs.
Reasons to watch the movie: You didn’t understand the Tamil version, you find an ageing and beefed-up John Abraham sexy, or you want to laugh through three hours of violence.