Players: Playing to the gallery

Jan 07, 2012, 06:25 IST | Shubha Shetty-Saha

If you are itching for a masaledar movie, watch this one. It is funny, intentionally and unintentionally.

U/A; Thriller
Dir: Abbas-Mustan
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, Bobby Deol, Sonam Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh
Ratings: Two and a half

If English is a phunny language, Bollywood is a really phunny place. For several years, it blissfully went through a phase when Hollywood films would be copied scene by scene, with the filmmakers even while blatantly credit stealing, pretended to be making an original film.

Now that our conscience is clear and we have the fear of getting sued (whichever comes first), we have started acquiring official rights of Hollywood films. And what do we do with that pricey legal document?  We cock a snook at the original script; make it so Bollywoodised that the end product seems the far removed desi bred poor cousin of the original. What is the brilliant idea behind this? No idea sirji!

Players is the official Bollywood remake of The Italian Job. But it is as much an Abbas-Mastan movie as you get. Charlie (Abhishek Bachchan) comes to know through a DVD left by his freshly murdered friend (Aftab Shivdasani) with his overtly sexual widow (who makes a cheesy pass at Charlie, just for the heck of it), that gold worth thousands of crores is being taken from Russia to Romania on a train. Charlie's friend along with the information gives him a priceless advice - form a team, don't do it alone.

So Charlie seeks the help of a seasoned criminal, Victor dada (Vinod Khanna), in getting introduced to the right kind of people for this. Soon Charlie has an illusionist (Bobby Deol, who has a sad story of his own, you just know from his expression right away), a makeup artist (Omi Vaidya, irritatingly irritating), an explosive expert (Sikandar Kher, who is deaf and kind of dumb), an expert computer hacker (Neil Nitin Mukesh, whose expressions veer dangerously between evil and madness) and of course, automobile expert Rhea (Bipasha Basu, the bombshell in red bikini, who never ceases to surprise). And then there is Victor dada's daughter, Naina (Sonam Kapoor), who has a soft spot for Charlie and a tough fist. (Yeh maine left hand se maara, yeh maine right hand se maara, she says triumphantly now and then).

Now under Charlie's supervision, a detailed plan is charted out for the train robbery. They have ten minutes to carry out the heist and they manage it, even when faced with a major hitch. This is the highlight and the edge of the seat part of the film. This thrilling sequence is executed pretty well and makes you watch it with bated breath, till the job is done. In fact, the action sequences are the best part of the film, as is true with all of the director duo's films. The heist is successful but there is a betrayer in the group, who walks away with the entire loot. So, the rest of the gang has to come together again to hatch a plan to avenge the betrayer.

Ah and then this is where quite predictably you encounter bucket loads of the Abbas-Mastanesque twists and turns in the story. And this is the point where the film stops being logical and starts spiralling downwards at an alarming pace. However, I have to surprisingly admit that there is a Johnny Lever track that is fresh and actually funny.

Abhishek Bachchan puts up a fairly convincing performance (He's played the bright, cool dude often enough for this to be a cake walk). Bipasha looks sizzling hot, while Sonam fails to impress. Sikandar Kher has limited scope but does his best. Bobby Deol sticks to one expression and Vinod Khanna looks lost. If you are itching for a masaledar movie, watch this one. It is funny, intentionally and unintentionally.

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