The redeeming aspect about Khiladi 786 is that the film at no point takes itself seriously nor does it expect you to take it seriously. When Himesh Reshamiyya, also credited with story for this silly exercise, makes an appearance as a comic actor as the film begins, your palm will hit your face.
And that will be the first of many face-palm moments that the film throws up subsequently. Ready for one? Sample: Why is the film called Khiladi 786? Because Akshay’s fate lines on his palm read 786.
Imagine if someone (namely, Himessbhai - story, Kushal Ved Bakshi - screenplay and Bunty Rathore - dialogues) took Chuck Norris or Rajinikanth jokes and passed them off for a script. That’s Khiladi 786 for you. A film that does not even make an attempt to name its characters, let alone define them.
As a result, Akshay Kumar probably in his 72nd appearance as some Punjabi character (and eighth as a Khiladi), is named 72 Singh. No kidding. Akshay Kumar is Bahattar Singh. His father (Raj Babbar) is Satthar Singh (70 Singh). His uncle (Mukesh Rishi) is Ikhattar Singh (71 Singh). And his missing twin brother is Tehattar Singh (73 Singh).
With this naming, it becomes fairly evident who the audience for this film is. People who can count only till 70, of course… who would have learnt to count till 73 by the end of the film!
But for Akshay Kumar’s benevolent contribution to improving literacy and math among the illiterate, there doesn’t seem to be any other noble reason for this film to get made. Except for a rich harvest of numbers at the box office by sticking to the time-tested formula of having the hero beat up people every few scenes (some 200 towards the end).
Other pluses include the earworm of a title track ‘Khiladi Bhaiyya Khiladi Bhaiyya’ that will ensure you can’t sleep at night without shaking your head like a Russian doll. HR compensates for his acting with some truly catchy songs and the makers pack as much Punjabi colour, kitsch and movie references into it as a fond genre tribute to everyone from Dharmendra, Mithun to Sunny Paaji, though most of the action scenes seem inspired by Rajinikanth. There’s also a nod to R.D. Burman.
Akshay Kumar really seems to be enjoying himself throwing around the corniest of punch lines while Asin brings spunk and spirit to a one-note character. The laughs (both intended and otherwise) keep coming throughout even if you are not going to be proud of yourself grinning at the silliest of gags.
Alright, I am going to admit I laughed at one that went like this: “Are there dogs in this house?” “No, but when required, we bite.” (Translate to Punjabi for flavour).
If Rowdy Rathore, Dabbang or Singham is your idea of an entertainer, go for it.
At least, these films don’t have any pretensions of being great, or even good, cinema.