Action Jackson: Bollywood masala on drugs

A still from 'Action Jackson'.  

In the cult stoner film Up in Smoke, a dog eats all the stuff the men were supposed to smoke up. So the guys wait for the dog to do its business and then, roll it up as a joint and smoke it. If you want to know what that joint would feel like, you might want to go see Prabhu Deva’s mad new film Action Jackson.

It’s that kind of a trip. You don’t judge how it was made, you just smoke it up and maybe even laugh because it’s like laughing gas.

The entire um… chunk of the first half revolves around a down-on-luck chubby girl (Sonakshi Sinha) wanting to see Ajay Devgn without his underwear because doing that twice has turned her luck around. So, the third time around, she decides to date-rape him.

The other girl in the film, the one the second half revolves around, is Padayappa’s Neelambari in a bra. Yes, Manasvi Mamgai carries off half the film mostly walking around in lingerie waiting to possess the man who is not interested in her. And once jilted, the woman scorned will do anything possible to claim him back.

The other two important characters in the film — played by Yami Gautam and Kunal Roy Kapoor — exist purely to get slapped and beaten around in every other scene. The bad guys beat Yami, and Devgn’s way of showing his friendship is slapping his best bud around. No surprise that the best buddy, even in his dying moments, decides to spill the beans about the hero’s identity.

With so much tug-of-war going on for his pants, where’s the action? Oh, it's there right from the first scene. It is heavily derived, even kitschy, as stunt men rehash action films from the South and, of course, Tarantino's take on the East, in case the bloody Kill Bill samurai-sliced credits in the trailer didn't make that obvious. The women, especially the vamp, is given the glorious Robert Rodriguez treatment because Bangkok, you know, is Sin City.

While most of it, especially the second half, is so deliciously bad that it is good, the first feels a little heavy and staid featuring what looks like leftover footage from R. Rajkumar, especially with a Shahid cameo.

Logic, of course, does not apply to a film where doppelgängers even have the same tattoo on their chests or where the hero tries on underwear before buying them, leaving the trial room unlocked, just so the heroine can avenge all those movies where the hero walks into the girl changing.

It's a self-aware caricature of a film that spoofs itself even if the attempted jokes themselves aren't that funny. But the action and dancing more than make up for the laughs.

The only way Action Jackson could have been more epic is if it would have featured Salman Khan instead of Devgn. Now that would have made makers of parody viral videos redundant. Given the number of times Devgn drops his shirts and even underpants, that extent of Bhaiporn would have sent millions of fans into Salman heaven and their collective nirvana would have set the box office, and critics, on fire.

This one, however, only amuses. It is the kind of torture Tarantino haters would want to inflict on him. Imagine Tarantino tied to a chair, cue ‘Stuck in the Middle with You’, and then play Action Jackson. But you know what? He might actually laugh.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 4:44:47 AM |

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