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BADMAASH COMPANY is a story set in the 1990s, of four ordinary middle-class Bombay youngsters - Karan (Shahid Kapoor), Bulbul (Anushka Sharma), Zing (Meiyang Chang) and Chandu (Vir Das) - who came together to start an import business. With their larger than life schemes, the four go on a wild roller-coaster ride into the world of sheer glitz and glamour where the stakes are high and risks even higher.Written by
Some may come to the conclusion, from the trailer alone, that this looks like 21 with the characters having spend time in Las Vegas probably scheming against the casinos in their get rick quick ploys, but the truth is much further than that. Credit has to go to actor turned first-time writer-director Parmeet Sethi who adopts the same glitzy look and feel of the Hollywood production, but steering clear into his own story, allowing the characters to rest and relax instead at Sin City, and hatching plans that even Danny Ocean will be proud of.
The film opens in the mid 90s Bombay, and spends considerable time in the opening credits scenes with shots of the streets, setting the stage for Shahid Kapur's Karan, a bright young man whose plan is to make a lot of money, being quite averse to the life of an average salaryman like his father (Anupam Kher). Together with his friends Chandu (Vir Das) the womanizer and Zing (Chang Meiyang, from the 3rd season of Indian Idol) the drinker, they meet up with the attractive lass Bulbul Singh (Anushka Sharma) during one of their early forays into the smuggling business, and soon strike up a fast friendship, with Karan and Bulbul hitting it off extremely fast as a romantic couple.
Taking the advice of big plans churning out big money, they form Friends & Company as their front for their get rich quick schemes, exploiting business and loopholes in the law, as well as society's innate corruption in order to get ahead on India's position on the cusp of a consumerism explosion. Karan hatches plan after plan for Kiran's Quartet to execute, which allows for plenty of montage opportunities where the players don different disguises and personae in order to cheat their way through their pathway to riches. And like yuppies, they spend as hard and play as hard, since at that age the sky's the limit, and the feeling of invulnerability is seductive.
It's akin to Ocean's 11 with the mantra of greed being good, and the film examines how the excesses of money can influence and change relationships, and corrupt the inner soul of a man into thinking he's a god, especially when his ego gets super inflated, thinking that they are all nowhere without his ideas. Shahid Kapur shines in this transformation from rags to riches, and puts on quite the charismatic charm in order to pull off his schemes. In his Chance Pe Dance he plays a man looking for his big break, and here his Karan scores both the girl and the cash before ego gets in the way and begins that systematic destruction of what's dear to him.
But being a Bollywood film, there's plenty of room in its 144 minutes to set things up and down, and made right again. The supporting cast also made this film a delight to sit through, with Anushka Sharma in only her second film outing after the highly successful Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, and what more for a Bollywood film to have featured her first on-screen kiss with Shahid as well, which of course is a big thing besides having to don her obligatory bikini to frolic in pristine beaches. Being quite the clothes horse here, her role is a departure from the more demure one in her film debut, being a lot more joyful and playful, and hardly sulking.
Credit too must go to the co-stars who make up the quartet, with Vir Das's Chandu given plenty of chances to get into disguises as he plays an integral field agent in their plan to pull the wool over their unsuspecting victims. But the one who will invariably get the attention is Chang Meiyang as Tanzing, or Zing. My only wish is that I can converse in Hindi as well as him, undoubtedly being the butt of most race related jibes (in good nature I must add), but holding his own just as well.
Shot in India, Thailand and the USA, Badmaash Company's strengths lie in the chemistry amongst the main leads, as well as the little moments of nostalgia and cheeky references put in to good effect. It's not the perfect film, but it has plenty on offer especially when learning how to make it good while doing all the bad things, which at times does call for a certain stretch of the imagination to work, sprinkled with doses of humour in between the more exciting scenes of witnessing Karan's bold plans unfurl. Recommended!
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