‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’ movie review: Akshay and Tiger jest and joust in this loud and clear mass entertainer

Writer-director Ali Abbas Zafar’s attempt to give the soul of Bollywood tropes an AI finish appeals in parts

April 11, 2024 03:51 pm | Updated 04:51 pm IST

A still from ‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’ 

A still from ‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’ 

In a rare Eid week without a Salman Khan-starrer, director Ali Abbas Zafar keeps alive the inclusive spirit of Bollywood with a high-speed action vehicle that runs on easy chemistry between its two drivers — style and substance.

Made for the masses, the film carries a jolly heart and some purpose in the swagger beneath the armour of special effects. It follows the time-tested friend-turned-foe formula of Bollywood that was forcefully reinvented by Siddharth Anand in Pathaan and takes it forward in the realm of Artificial Intelligence. In times of deep fakes, Zafar digs into the receding human factor in technology.

An old hat Firoz aka Freddy (Akshay Kumar) and a rakish Rakesh alias Rocky (Tiger Shroff) are the trusted soldiers of Commander Azad (Ronit Roy). Their insubordination have forced them out of the uniform but when a dushman-dost Kabir (Prithviraj Sukumaran) returns from the dead to take revenge, they join hands to take on the challenge of clones.

Of course, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan is larger than life. Of course, it gives a feeling that someone used an AI app to develop an interesting idea. It is a road we have taken many times before – but the way it pans out, it is fun in the first half and engaging in the second. Equating the perfection of robots with the fidayins populating all faiths, it sends out a stinging message to those who want to rule with brainwashed foot soldiers. Underlining the Indian tradition of putting conscience ahead of talent, the film brings some respite from the propaganda fare. Expanding the India-Pakistan jousting on screen, Zafar, for a change, brings China into the picture and relates how self-interests, personal ego, and grudge turn men into monsters. He makes easy mythological allusions to Eklavya and Karna to give the audience something to chew on between the relentless punches.

Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (Hindi)
Director: Ali Abbas Zafar
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Tiger Shroff, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Manushi Chhillar, Alaya F, Sonakshi Sinha, Ronit Roy
Run-time: 158 minutes
Storyline: Two soldiers, played by Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff, rejoin the fray against a masked antagonist

Set to the throbbing background score by Julius Paickam, BMCM begins like a collection of action set pieces to flaunt what vfx company DNEG could achieve in the desi space. The digital bonding of the foreground and background is not always smooth but the narrative soon finds the irreverent tone of the original starring Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda. Early in the film, a hilarious throwback scene pays tribute to the comic timing of the two with the great Satish Kaushik and joins the chord between 1998 and the present.

While Akshay plays the OG with his time-tested straight-faced humour, Tiger Shroff gets to flex his acting muscle and laugh at himself. Laced with some meme-worthy inside jokes, the references to nepotism in terrorism and the comment on actors’ lowbrow image work well. In the battle between biceps and brains, Manushi Chhillar and Alaya F lend some sensual energy and goofy banter as the writers don’t treat them as just good-looking props. However, Sonakshi Sinha, in an extended cameo, doesn’t have much to add.

The problem is that every emotion, like the action choreography, is spelled out in capital letters and Zafar takes a bit too long to arrive at the point. But before you feel that it is just yet another heavy dose of adrenaline, Zafar brings a twist to the tale forcing you to log in again.

After living the emaciated Goat Life, Prithviraj Sukumaran turns up as a puffed-up, masked antagonist devouring the digital scenery with style. The dialogue delivery demands a little more work on intonation but his expression of the anguish of a scientist whose hard work is rejected because of its possible misuse hits the right notes.

Targeted at the galleries, the film follows what Azad says in the film: intent is more important than talent. One advice for Akshay, though. It is high time he starts growing a real moustache for fictitious roles. It distracts!

Bade Miyan Chote Miyan is currently running in theatres

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