Machine movie review: Abbas-Mustan cherrypick from their hits Soldier, Baazigar and Race to launch Mustafa Burmawala, son of Abbas. But this squelchy plot needed acting chops and charisma which the film's leads lack.
The Brothers Abbas Mustan are seasoned Bollywood warhorses. They created a successful brand of cinema in the 90s which was uniquely theirs: large sets, song-and-dance which remind you of MTV grind, good-looking men and women kitted out in sexy attire and no morals. They excelled at getting our seedha saadha stars do dodgy things for pyaar, paisa and pelf: an impressive array of A-listers — from Shah Rukh Khan to Akshay Kumar to Salman Khan to Saif Ali Khan — passed through their hands, scoring humungous hits.
The duo has been on the downslope for a while now, the Abbas-Mustan baroque construction of scenes and situations at odds with contemporary styles. Their last outing introduced TV comic Kapil Sharma to the movies via a limp comedy. In this latest one, expressly made to launch Mustafa, son of Abbas, they haven’t taken any chances. They’ve cherry-picked from amongst their own hits to cobble together Machine: the biggest chunks are recognizably from Baazigar, crossed with Soldier, and Race.
You could play a spot-the-movie game through the 148 minutes which pan out in what can be called an Abbas-Mustan template: swanky cars zooming around tracks, rich fathers of good-looking daughters flagging off races, leading men spouting dialogues in pursuit of pretty women, tricky twists, and a plot with enough holes to drive trucks through.
Machine is the kind of film the director-duo would have got away in the 90s. Or maybe not. Even the squelchiest of plots need some acting chops and charisma: none of the young people, including the debutant Burmawla, is in possession of these crucial ingredients that makes a star.
The mystery of why it’s called Machine is revealed only in the last few interminable minutes. I stayed to pay my dues. Abbas Mustan typified a certain kind of splashy, shiny Bollywood, which told its tales with zest. Who doesn’t remember ‘yeh kaali kaali aankhen’ with SRK and Kajol burning up the floor? This is the end of an era.
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