Director: Sajid Nadiadwala | Year: 2014

I like the way the film starts – a bespectacled Jacqueline ( Shaina)stirring out of the house languorously against a lilting enough but not particularly memorable song. Then it moves on nicely with Randeep Hooda ( Himanshu)  and Jacqueline  in the metro train as Jackie tells her about her  amazing boyfriend Devi Lal ( Salman Khan). Himanshu too shares his story about the man in his life, the criminal he failed to catch. We know it is the same man they are talking about and I thought it was a smart way of setting up the story and dispensing the obligatory hero introduction scene.

At this point I am quite surprised with the degree of professionalism with which the film has been mounted. Ayanank Bose’s cinematography is lush. The writing is first rate. The conversation between Himnshu and Shaina in the train, for example, is the way two sensible adults would talk. Both Randeep and Jackie avoid any over-the-top histrionics.

Fortunately the film keeps up its smart strain throughout. The righting is always competent, the lines smart, the repartees witty. Not much happens in the first half. It is mainly a character exposition of Devi Lal through episodes. And Salman carries the scenes through effortlessly. I have always thought he is the handsomest star in Hindi film screen. You can have your Hrithik, I am all for the human touch of Salman. Here he is in full flow, moving his toned body gracefully at times, comically at others. His comic timing is god as ever. He is especially lovable in the drunken scene with his father played by Mithun.

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As the film progressed I am even more surprised by the professional competence with which the film has been put together. The writing is not lazy. Nowhere is there an attempt to insult your intelligence. If there is an explanation for the code ‘ LOSER’, there is another for how Devi Lal simply becomes Devil. The action sequences as well the heists are more logical, more credible and better staged than in Dhoom 2 or Dhoom3. ( Think of the scene where the peonleads to the hidden cache of 50 crores after the police interrogation.) And the attention to detail is something you do not see in an average Bollywood film, let alone in a Salman Khan caper. It is a really hard-worked film. If Devi Lal’s academic excellence has to be established, there are a bunch of certificates with his name clearly visible on each of them. When  Randeep says, “ Mere vardi mein medals toh bahut lage hain lekin dhaba sirf ek’, we get to see his past successes, involving diverse situations, in quick succession, but in faithful detail, before coming to the sole failure. ( I like the spontaneous wit of lines like Salman telling Randeep, referring to his shooting skills “ Aap Olympics mein kyun nahin participate karte? Medals to wahan bhi milte hain.”)

And one has to but admire the scale and standard of the film’s mounting when they can get actors like Rajat Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla and Sanjay Mishra for bit parts. And they all deliver. Then there is the master himself – Nawajuddin Siddiqi. Wahta performance! His scenes have been very well-written too. Take the scene where he kills the doctor played by Rajat Kapoor. He starts by quoting Ghalib,‘Maut ka ek din muayyan hai,  nind kyon rat bhar nahi ati / Pehle aati thi haal-e-dil pe hansi, ab kisi baat par nahin aati’ , followed by the manic laughter. Then he smothers him with what is available at hand, a bubble wrap sheet. Then he mentions how stress kills so many of us and trues to relieve his own by bursting the bubbles one by one. I can see the film again just to see him perform.

The songs have been picturized with zest and zing. I have always thought Himesh does great dance numbers, and I loved the kickass club beat of Yaar Na Mila song as well as Hangover and Jumme Ki Raat. One compliant though – only the context of the Hangover song has been built through what Salman has said to Jackie earlier. But no such justification for the Jumme Ki Raat song ( unlike say the ; Jumma Chumma’ song in ‘Hum’).

Kick 1

The segment with the child with cancer has been built up with same logical consistency as rest of the film. (Her asking for money, which we have seen earlier, now revealed to be for her own treatment, the psychological soundness of the greatest kick being the one you get from helping someone else in dire need, etc.) But is a little mawkish and manipulative for my taste and I could not warm up to this section sufficiently enough.

In many ways this really is the real Dhoom 3 and the one that came before this is really an Aamir Khan drama. I thought it was superior to Dhoom 3 in almost all departments, including performances.  Yet, in the final reckoning, Dhoom 3 gave me bigger high ( or a stronger kick if you like) for the sheer inventiveness of the Sahir-Samar duality and the innocent and yet obsessive passion that Samar develops for the liquid electric Aaliya. It’s Dostoevsky there for me. That and the sheer radiance with which Katrina lights up the screen anytime she is there. And looking back, I must say, I enjoyed Chennai Express more, once again, because of its effortless caper movement of the narrative and the sheer charm and innocence of the Meenamma character. In other words, Chennai Express and Dhoom 3 ( I hated the motorcycle stunts  and heist portions of the film) for me had a bit more soul than ‘ Kick’ which has been put together cleverly and competently with not too many holes you can pick.But I have no hesitation in putting on record that ‘Kick’ is the more technically proficient film than the other two. And I think it is a good omen for Bollywood if Salman Khan Potboilers are put together with this degree of professional excellence.

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