Bhaisexual (noun): Bad boys with beefy biceps and shaved chests, who love to fight each other after ripping each other’s shirts off. The origin dates back to Bhai films, circa Dabanng.
Meet the Bhaisexuals — bros against buttons — Bikram (Ranveer) and Bala (Arjun), two orphan kids from Bangladesh who took control of the coal trade and made Calcutta their home.
We know it is Calcutta because
a. Every other scene has a visual of the Howrah bridge.
b. Scenes without the Howrah bridge have a nightclub called Calcutta.
c. And scenes without either have Durga Puja.
The boys wear their heart on the sleeve… okay, shirts. We know this because
a. The heroes wear identical shirts with hearts painted on them
b. There’s a scene where they are shown sharing a heart-shaped glass
c. They fall for the girl together and even woo her together with the same song
Otherwise, the boys are totally evil Gunday, their hearts are as black as coal. They are not cool, but all coal.
Imagine if Jai and Veeru switched over to the dark side, became twin Gabbar Singhs and fought over Helen after watching her gyrate to ‘Mehbooba’.
Which brings us to the problem area of the film: Why would we then root for them when they kill a man in front of his brother and scores of innocent policemen? There’s nothing likeable about these goons. If Bala is the trigger-happy angry young man (cue in cliché), Bikram is the more responsible elder brother figure who owes his life to Bala because (ahem, cliché) he once saved his life.
It’s as if director Ali Abbas Zafar borrowed Arjun Kapoor from Ishaqzaade and Ranveer Singh from Ram-Leela (both films that end with lovers who take on the cruel world and prefer to kill and die for love) and never bothered rewriting their characters or changing their wardrobe. He just added Priyanka Chopra for misdirection. Otherwise, this is exactly the same story as Romeo and Juliet but for the fact that the Romeos really love each other more than they love Juliet.
As if those clichés were not enough, we have Irrfan Khan as the worst policeman in Bollywood history. He makes even Jai and Ali (from the Dhoom franchise) look smarter when instead of arresting the goons after framing them for murder, he decides to gift them a cabaret dancer girlfriend to fight over and even orchestrates a public gunfight during Durga Puja, endangering the lives of innocent civilians.
Bikram and Bala predictably end up enemies because one of them breaks the Bro Code and covets the girl in the absence of the other bro.
One becomes good and the other evil as the makers soon decide to employ yet another Bollywood cliché — the Ramayan template. The evil Bala who has sworn “to become blacker than coal” kidnaps “the Sita who claims she has become Ram’s” (short for BikRam’s… Smart no? said the makers as they hi-fived each other).
It would have been all right if the clichés were used for a larger reason. But no, the only point the film wants to make is the biggest cliché of them all — that it is the System *yawn* that breeds Gunday!
If only the director had the guts to channel all the sexual tension into a Brokeback Mountain-esque love story instead of this faux bromance. Unfortunately, the characters are completely in denial of this chemistry and stick to the unwritten rules of the System. That Bollywood heroes who love each other to death can only be brothers even if they aren’t blood related… It’s a strange Bollywood phenomenon. The bromance of the Bhaisexuals.
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, Priyanka Chopra
Storyline: Instead of arresting two bad boys after framing them, the worst police officer in Bollywood history gifts them a cabaret dancer to fight over.
Bottomline: Once Upon a Time in Calcutta Dobaara