by Deepanjana Pal
Shaina (Jacqueline Fernandez), a psychiatrist, is pining for her ex-boyfriend, Devi Lal (Salman Khan). Supercop Himanshu Tyagi (Randeep Hooda) is looking for the mysterious, masked thief Devil who goes around pulling of spectacular stunts.
Within the first half hour, the only ones who don’t know that Devi Lal is Devil are Shaina and Himanshu. What follows for the next few hours is a procession of shots showing Khan walking, Khan driving, Khan dancing, Khan in a hoodie, Khan in a colourful kurta, Khan in black, Khan with a beard, Khan without a beard, Khan with tears in his eyes, Khan striding, and Khan’s ass being kicked.
That’s Rs 100 crore in Sajid Nadiadwala’s kitty, apparently.
A Nadiadwala film starring Khan isn’t expected to throw up surprise twists, which makes it easy to write a spoiler-free review of Kick because everyone knows who’s going to win the cop versus robber game, when the robber is played by Khan. If Robin Hood and Mother Teresa had a lovechild and that child was raised by Mithun Chakraborty, his name would be Devi Lal Singh.
Devi Lal, is a genius and a daredevil, so much so that his back story has to be shown as an animated sequence. Real people can’t do justice to his awesomeness (and no one is going to let any child do the frightfully dangerous and idiotic stunts that little Devi Lal pulls as a kid). There are even a couple of scenes in which we see Devi Lal grow up so that we are treated to an animated version of Salman Khan doing a few tricks. It looks more credibly real and has more expression than Khan himself manages, but maybe the cartoon was just being human. (There’s something almost poetic about the animated Khan possessing expression and the human Khan looking like a statue stolen from Madame Tussaud’s.)
Kick is supposed to be the story of an adrenaline junkie who’s constantly looking for a new and better high. Instead, all we see Khan do is beat people up and dance badly, which may well be how he gets an adrenaline rush. In actuality, Kick is an attempt by Khan to show himself as a heroic good samaritan. Devi Lal in Kick doesn’t enter the world of crime because of greed, but because he has a cause that is expected to make cherubs clap and angels weep with gratitude. In reality, it’s a little creepy but we’ll get to that later.
There isn’t much by way of suspense in this film, but it does raise a few questions. Like, for instance, how much were the real actors in the cast paid for being in Kick? If they’ve negotiated well, then this is what we hope acting in Kick has earned the following:
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: a house
Randeep Hooda: a house and a car
Sanjay Mishra: a luxurious vacation
Rajit Kapoor: the right to demand a better wig.
Predictably, the only ace up the film’s sleeve is Siddiqui, who manages to have some fun as Devil’s arch nemesis. The one scene in Kick that has some crackle is Siddiqui’s final encounter with Khan.
Ironically for a film about a guy who is bored and whose only ambition in life is to feel a heady rush of pleasure — yes, boys and girls, that’s what Devi Lal means when he says he’s looking for a ‘kick’ — Kick is a spectacularly dull film. Nadiadwala is clearly aware of this because why else would Salman Khan as Devi Lal make his grand entry and then, within seconds, remind us he’s also Dabangg’s Chulbul Pandey?
Devi Lal enters the film, driving a curious vehicle that is part bike, part car and completely ridiculous. He whisks a bride, groom and bride’s friend out of a wedding, and as he is making his exit, one random member of the wedding band lands on the bike’s bumper. Instead of howling in agony at the pain that one imagines follows a man’s crotch hitting unyielding metal, the man sees Devi morph into Chulbul Pandey. HIs eyes glaze over and he plays the Dabangg tune.
That’s basically what Nadiadwala expects audiences across the country to do: see their beloved Bhai (who is, helpfully, also called Bhai in the film) and not notice anything else, least of all how painfully idiotic the script, acting, stunts and twists in Kick are. No one expects the writing to be good in a Nadiadwala film, but Kick is just terminally lazy.
For instance, Himanshu grimly informs his team that Devil’s three crimes show a pattern: Devil targets people who have made headlines and the robbery is done on holidays. Who’s victim number four? A peon who hasn’t made headlines. So much for pattern. More absurdly, Devil sends a handwritten note to the police along with a mug shot of the man he says he’s going to rob. What do Himanshu and the rest of the police force do? They erupt in a frenzy of investigation to find Mr Mugshot. Why use the handwriting to catch the criminal when you can go hunting through the haystack of Delhi’s population to find the man in the mugshot?
The worst part of Kick isn’t that Nadiadwala and Khan take themselves seriously, but that they think their audiences are fools. The audience won’t notice that the characters and plot twists make no sense. Devi Lal, who is supposedly a gold medallist engineer and has made headlines with inventions like hyper-real holograms, becomes a thief because he needs Rs 11 lakh for a medical emergency. Really? He couldn’t get a loan? Sell his hologram technology? Or here’s a radical thought: get a job.
The audience won’t care that Shaina essentially kidnaps a patient from a hospital because he’s her ex-boyfriend and she wants revenge on him because he’s forgotten her. As far as she knows, he’s got “retrograde amnesia”, but why should she, a doctor, care about those details? He didn’t recognise her. He must be punished. How? By “healing” him so that he remembers her, and then dumping him. She doesn’t realise that all Devi Lal wants is to get into her home. Once she figures out she’s been a pawn in his plan, you’d think she’d be doubly mad, but no. Shaina and her need for vengeance are conveniently forgotten. And of course the audience won’t care about details like if a man jumps out of a building in Poland, it’s highly unlikely he will land in London, the only city that has red double decker buses and a place called King’s Cross.
Will the audience find anything creepy about the fact that Devi Lal feels a “kick” because a little girl, lying in bed, smiles at him? Only if they’ve read about Woody Allen. How does this girl end up in Devi Lal’s care? She has a “chest tumour” and because her parents can’t find the money for her treatment, they leave her in a children’s home and jump off a building. How is getting orphaned supposed to help a sick little girl? Because their suicide note will waft to Devi Lal, naturally. So now this girl has the guilt of her parents’ suicides and a guardian who gets a “kick” when she smiles at him. If that doesn’t turn her into a violent psychopath, maybe she’ll grow up to star in the Indian remake of Kick Ass.
But there are two wonderful, heartening and life-affirming things that one can take away from Kick. Early on in the film, you can see Khan being kicked on his bottom by Mithun Chakraborty. Unfortunately, we aren’t shown Chakraborty’s foot making contact, but the suggestion is plain and this is one illusion that we’ll gladly buy. More importantly, this is the last time we’ll see Salman Khan in a film in 2014.
That gave us a kick.
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