Bell Bottom movie review: In the 1970s and 1980s, remember the slightly ludicrous bell bottoms, those enormously flared trousers worn by fashionistas and commoners alike?
Code Name Bell Bottom, Akshay Kumar’s RAW agent, carries them off with a comic book flare. That is precisely the tone of the picture, which, despite the severity of its topic, avoids taking itself too seriously.
From beginning to end, it is fashioned as a brisk, fast-paced entertainment that never loses sight of its goal, exaggerated scenarios and characters joyously to the fore.
This loosely fictionalised actioner stars Akshay Kumar and is largely inspired on a series of real-life hijackings of Indian Airlines flights in the 1980s.
It also has a slew of supporting actors, the best of whom is Adil Hussain. It’s a let-our-hair-down escapade that embraces its cheerful, goofy attitude and transforms into a respectable big-screen adventure in these Covid times.
One of the problems that Bollywood has always had is figuring out how to make complicated things simple, because else, we’d lose interest, see?
So we get a snippet of history from a period when, according to the tale, India and Pakistan were experiencing a rare moment of amity, but it wasn’t to last long. Yes, of course.
Punjab was sweltering. The ISI sponsored Khalistani insurgents, as did the JKLF (according to the film, not me), and the best method to teach India a lesson, according to the wicked crafty ISI, was to hijack Indian planes and use hostages to swap terrorists imprisoned in Indian jails, while ‘phaelaoing’ general ‘dehshat.’
The passion of a decent patriotic Indian hero for his homeland has no boundaries. Only his love for his ‘bebe’ (Dolly Ahluwalia) can give it a run for its money.
Bell Bottom movie review is rated 3 stars
Our BellBottom is given a loving mother, who suffers a tragic end in one hijacking, but our hero has an opportunity to revenge both in another. What could be better than two for the price of one Pakistani hijacker?
What we have is a shabby narrative that highlights our hero’s adventures, with the actual hijacking crammed into a brief yet exciting part.
As the RAW chief (Adil Hussain, who steals every scene) addresses an emergency cabinet meeting led by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (Lara Dutta in a jaw-dropping doppelganger avatar), the action shifts between Delhi, London, Lahore, Islamabad, and Dubai.
The artists involved for this transformation should be applauded), and that their “star analyst” BellBottom is the only one who can save the Indian hostages. With file in hand and camera fixed on his billowing pant bottoms, Akshay strides into the PM’s office and takes over.
One of the benefits of claiming that the storey is merely “inspired” by true events is that you can stuff it with a lot of make-believe: BellBottom and his comely wife (Vaani Kapoor) get to exchange flirty dialogue and a song; a let’s-hunt-the-bad-guys in a London outpost, where BellBottom shows us multiple uses of a Coke (if you’re a spiffy secret agent and you’ Your eye starts to roll, but the scene switches quickly: everything goes as long as you keep going.
Dutta not only looks but also sounds like Mrs G, with her thundering command. Except when she says to her table of powerful guys, “It is our collective bloody obligation” (‘b-y’, really?) and you start rolling your eyes again, but then she goes on.
You, too, share this sentiment. Not only are her ministers and diplomats shown to be bumblers; the Pakistanis, with their sneering and flailing, are also buffoons.
Only RAW, the top-dog agency (with a smutty canine joke delivered with a superb straight face by Hussain), led by our tireless hero, comes out on top.
Tewari puts Akshay in the driver’s seat, as he must in this sort of picture, and our sharply-mustachioed hero leads his band of braves into combat admirably.
The film has a small sting in its tail for its main lady, saving her from becoming a decorative object at the last minute. There is a ray of hope, but it is oh-so-flimsy.
You wish that thread had a bit more to it. Huma Qureshi also has a little role in the film, with the term “small” being the important word: how do you get intriguing women into an all-boys club? Why isn’t anyone else wearing bell-bottoms, which were fashionable at the time? Never mind, let’s go on.
The stated measurements of ‘BellBottom’ are see, no complications, and everything is simple. There were no hostages lost in this game, just as there were no hostages lost in real life when the rescue effort was completed.
We receive the flag, but no one is waving it loudly. We have bad Pakistani terrorists brainwashing helpless Indians, but no outspoken patriotism. The bad guys are defeated. The good folks come out on top. Salute to India.