"Iss duniya mein teen cheezen hai jo hoti hai par dikhti nahin hai. Ek: bhooton ka sansar. Do: Sachha pyaar. Teen: Bahattar Singh ki raftaar. (There are three things in this world that exist but you cannot see. One: the world of ghosts; two: true love and three: 72 Singh's speed)," claims the Khiladi before beating up his detractors.
Well, this critic may like to add another couple of things to the hero's list - common sense and intelligence, the complete lack of which characterises this mad caper of a film, which you don't notice because, well, you are too busy being bombarded by the dozens of characters, their corny one-liners, the sheer profusion of the truck land aesthetic and your own loud laughter.
As long as you are willing to forgive the film all its nonsense, there is no doubt that ‘Khiladi 786’ is a laugh riot. For one, the film's hero's name is 72 Singh (Akshay Kumar). The hero's father's name 70 Singh (Raj Babbar) and uncle's name is 71 Singh (Mukesh Rishi). These are not nicknames, mind you. These are real names.
He is a sort of goonda who helps the Punjab police nab smugglers. He has the looks, the superpowers, even a 786 on his palm, but no bride to take home. The heroine's brother is TT (Tatya Tendulkar) who is a gangster. He has the clout and the resources but is unable to find a decent family to get his sister married into. It's a match made in heaven, isn't it? So matchmaker Mansukh, whose track record boasts of only failed nuptials so far, takes it upon himself (at gunpoint) to bring these two families together.
But because of their mutual preoccupation with a 'decent family' both goonda families end up pretending to be the police! Dear sister too is on her own trip, dating a goon who is in jail. There is full dhishoom-dhishoom, one-sided love and sacrifice, lost and found, and enough PJs in the film aiding the plot to progress to its illogical end.
Ashish R Mohan's debut takes its time to start off, but soon finds its tone and pace right. If it weren't for a couple of songs and some thoroughly unnecessary plot twists (say with Johny Lever, Bharati Dubey) towards the climax, the film would have been much more enjoyable. The Azaad (Rahul Singh) track is really hilarious and so is Mithunda as the Marathi don. Asin looks grumpy throughout. Why 72 Singh falls for her is a complete mystery. But Himesh Reshammiya is the true surprise of the film, displaying great timing and cheer.
But above all, Akshay Kumar’s dashing entry, larger than life attitude, racy dialogues, marks a boldened star text. Post ‘OMG Oh My God!’ and ‘Joker’, the Khiladi returns as Bahattar Singh in a ‘Rowdy Rathore’-like avatar to reassert his status as a superstar.
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