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Bell Bottom review

By JOGINDER TUTEJA
August 20, 2021 11:01 IST
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Akshay Kumar leads the show in a manner only he can.
There is the right swag coming into the picture, but more important it is his deadpan style that works in favour of the character he is playing, applauds Joginder Tuteja.

There were two reasons why I was super excited to watch Bell Bottom.

First, the excitement of watching a film on the big screen five months after the last theatre release, Mumbai Saga, in March.

Second, the promo had given the impression of this Akshay Kumar starrer belonging to the genre of Baby and Airlift, two of the actor's best loved films.

Since my favourite genre is espionage thrillers, I was hoping that the film lived up to the kind of expectations the promo had set.

Thankfully, that's what happened.

 

Director Ranjit M Tiwari's film shows us incidents that unfolded in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

While it's known that Indian flights were hijacked back then, the manner in which it is explained at the start of the film, about how Pakistan's modus operandi came into play, was an eyeopener indeed.

What was all the more surprising was to know that within government circles there was conflicting opinion about Pakistan's role in this chain of events, including the hijack around which Bell Bottom has been designed.

This is where one has to credit the Bell Bottom team that despite a lot of geopolitics coming into play, the film doesn't get into a heavy duty zone and become a docudrama. Instead, it flows smoothly as an Akshay Kumar entertainer does.

No naarebaazi or deshbhakti ka sandesh is thrust down the audience's throat.

Instead, the premise is explained in a matter of fact and yet entertaining manner, while building towards a thrilling second half.

Akshay Kumar's homely life with wife Vaani Kapoor and mother Dolly Ahluwalia is established in quick time. The reason for him to step into R&AW (with guidance from senior Adil Hussain) is set up well too, and then the whole induction and training block is laid out in a neat fashion.

As the first half progresses and you move towards the interval point, you know why the backstory (which also involves the genesis of the hijackers in the past, and the hint of the mastermind) was as much required.

With the thrills set well in London (the film is shot in Scotland), Bell Bottom gets set for the intriguing second half where multiple characters start coming into the picture.

R&AW agents, government officials, Pakistani agents, terrorists, a within officials, nervous moments at the PMO, Plan A, B and C coming into the picture, and above all of this, some shrewd thinking, makes Bell Bottom a riveting watch.

The entire second half is a smooth sequence of events at a breathtaking pace though you do wish that the climax was extended with some more dialogue baazi and dramatic moments with the central terrorist.

But since the film plays out in a realistic manner, one can understand why the filmi instinct was curbed.

One has to credit the production team for making the film in record time despite the pandemic.

I had assumed that the film may be a bit constrained from the production standpoint due to the restrictions in place owing to the COVID peak phase in which the film was shot.

However, you get to see a big scale film with more than 50 percent of the scenes set in the outdoors, which is a remarkable feat.

Akshay Kumar leads the show in a manner only he can. There is the right swag coming into the picture, but more important it is his deadpan style that works in favour of the character he is playing. Someone who is no nonsense and yet has his quintessential sense of humour in place makes him an entertaining actor to watch.

Lara Dutta is quite effective as Indira Gandhi while Adil Hussain has a meaty role with a couple of clap-worthy dialogues.

Vaani Kapoor has an interesting part to play and Huma Qureshi is adequate.

Zain Khan Durrani, as the key terrorist, is quite confident.

The actors playing Indian and Pakistani officials are thankfully not caricatures and fit their parts well.

Bell Bottom satiates the hunger of watching a film on the big screen. It is quite entertaining and makes one look forward to the sequel as well which is pretty much on the cards.

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JOGINDER TUTEJA