Film Review: ‘Boss’

Film Review: 'Boss'

High kicks of both the dancing and kung fu kind fly in this relentless commercial for scenery-chewing megastar Akshay Kumar.

The deafening Bollywood action comedy “Boss,” directed in broad, heavy strokes by Anthony D’Souza (“Blue”), is a relentless hard-sell star vehicle, a two-and-half-hour string of sledgehammer fighting and dancing sequences. In the end, it is little more than an extended high-energy commercial for the mugging wonderfulness of its leading man, veteran scenery-chewing megastar Akshay Kumar.

Nominally a remake of the 2010 Malayalam film “Pokkiri Raja,” with action scenes modeled on the post-“Matrix” slow-motion violence of head-banging South Indian hero films (a trend that began with Aamir Khan’s “Ghajini” in 2008), “Boss” also harks back pointedly to the grab-bag “masala” formulas that dominated Bollywood cinema in the 1970s and ’80s. In spite of its relentless, repetitive overstatement, the pic (which opened Oct. 16 to robust business on more than 3,000 Indian screens, as well as 100 North American locations) will likely be embraced as filling comfort food by nostalgic Indian moviegoers as well as non-Indian fans of the far-fetched films of the Amitabh Bachchan era.

In fact, the touchstone of the plot appears to be the late Yash Chopra’s 1975 classic “Deewaar” (“Wall”), in which Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor were estranged brothers, one a charismatic noble smuggler and the other an upright hero cop. In “Boss,” we have the two sons of stern-but-just school teacher Satyakant (Mithun Chakraborty). The old brother, Surya, unjustly disowned, comes to the rescue of the godfatherly Big Boss (Danny Denzongpa), a warm-hearted gangster who runs a trucking company. When the Big Boss is ambushed at a crowded intersection, Surya intervenes, displaying superheroic fighting abilities. Adopted into the gang, the adult Surya becomes Boss (Kumar), a legendary Robin Hood-style “fixer” who is his surrogate father’s second-in-command.

In a move that is all too typical of the movie’s ADHD sensibility, the scene that reintroduces Surya as Boss sets up a clever action-comedy device that is instantly dropped and never mentioned again: namely, that the gangster hero can only fight at said superheroic levels when very loud Punjabi dance music is playing, timing his roundhouse punches and high kicks to the beat. The movie’s many subsequent action episodes, alas, are much less inventive.

The plot, pursued with many boisterous digressions, aims to reunite the shattered family, beginning with Satyakant’s reluctant plea to the Big Boss to help defend his younger son, Surya’s beloved kid brother Shiv (Shiv Pandit). Shiv has fallen for Ankita (Aditi Rao Hydari), the doe-eyed and curvy sister of a malevolent police official, Ayushman Thakur (Ronit Roy). In defending her honor, Shiv inadvertently trounced the son of a powerful politician (Govind Mandeo).

With his thick-muscled body and huge, dark dead eyes, Roy’s Ayushman is a truly terrifying black-hearted bully, and director D’Souza deploys him effectively, often in looming closeup. Less successfully, he attempts to pump up Ayushman’s conflict with the Boss to mythic levels, even staging their final showdown at Kurukshetra, the climactic battleground of the Hindu epic “Mahabharata.” The gravity of the myth-making is undercut, however, by the persistent drive to create an ingratiating slapstick showcase for Kumar.

Kumar can be a winning performer when he is permitted to display some self-doubt or vulnerability, as in the 2006 romantic comedy “Jaan-E-Mann.” Placed in service of a blowhard action hero, however, his persona is pushy and graceless. Always playing directly to the audience, he never walks when he can strut and never speaks when he can shout. The full-bore energy level at which every gesture is enacted by this enviably fit 46-year-old martial arts practitioner can be impressive. With the exception of a couple of high falls that occur during an extended parkour-style chase over the tricky rooftops of Delhi, Kumar visibly does all his own stunts and kung fu fighting in “Boss.”

The sense that the “Boss” filmmakers are casting a nostalgic look backward to the heyday of the “masala” movie is supported by the casting of Chakraborty, once a disco dancing heartthrob; Denzongpa, a hard working character actor who specialized in bad guys; and especially comedian Johnny Lever, not seen often over the past decade but a ubiquitous presence in Hindi films throughout the 1980s and ’90s. His appearance here is a reunion of sorts: Lever had a key supporting role in Kumar’s breakthrough action comedy “Khiladi” (“Player”) in 1992.

Film Review: 'Boss'

Reviewed at UA Los Cerritos Galaxy Stadium 11, Cerritos, Calif., Oct. 16, 2013. Running time: 143 MIN.

Production

(India) A Viacom 18 release of an Ashwin Varde Prods./Cape of Good Films/Viacom18 Motion Pictures production. Produced by Ashwin Varde. Executive producers, Wasim Khan, Zulfaquar Haider Torabi.

Crew

Directed by Anthony D'Souza. Screenplay, Farhad-Sajid, based on the screenplay "Pokkiri Raja" by Siby K. Thomas, Udaykrishnan. Camera (color, widescreen), Laxman Utekar; editing, Rameshwar S., Bhagat; music, Chirantan Bhatt, Anjjan Meet, Deepak P.A., Sandeep Shirodkar, Yo Yo Honey Singh; lyrics, Sahil Kaushal, Kumaar, Manoj Yadav; choreography, Ganesh Acharya, Raju Khan, Prabhu Dheva; production designer, Sukant Panigrahy; costume designer, Kriti Malhotra; stunts, Arnal Arasu.

With

Akshay Kumar, Ronit Roy, Shiv Pandit, Mithun Chakraborty, Johnny Lever, Aditi Rao Hydari, Danny Denzongpa, Sonakshi Sinha, Govind Mandeo. (Hindi dialogue)

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  1. Neeraj Singh says:

    In Boss Akshay Acting is super funny & with serious actions.I love this movie.

  2. Pooja says:

    Was overall an okay movie!

  3. Genome says:

    Thanks for sharing boss movie review…!!

  4. Arun says:

    One of the delights of Bollywood is how much goes on in the
    background.
    For example in Boss , watching it for the second time , I
    spotted the following wow factors, just in this one movie. When you
    see this movie watch out for

    The classic cadilac car owned by the Big boss in which he gets
    ambushed. They could have made it a jeep or something but this car is
    pure eye candy

    Aditi coming out in a bikini – Raquel Welsh style , man what a body!

    The dialogue by the inspector superbly played by the very fit Rohit
    Roy who likes nuts and kill criminals in encounters , with his bare
    hands- why defame death? , It is life that causes all the suffering;
    death is a release

    The gaudy transport trucks

    The ‘rocking chair’ live goons

    The big speakers with booming music which Akshay needs to beat up the
    baddies

    Incidentally Akshay was a karate teacher before he became an actor
    ,and does all his own stunts. However no kid should hit anyone with
    his bare knuckles so hard , you will break them.

    The palace the goons live in Haryana and the magnificient one they
    move to in Delhi with its marvellous fountain, was waiting till the
    titles to see where they were filmed but it wasnt mentioned. The five
    star portable lobby with the beautiful seats

    The guy trying to get the father to forgive his goon son,
    Every saint has a past , and every sinner has a future!

    Just before the interval the amazing tabla in the background when he
    sees his father , the price of the ticket is worth that alone.

    The stereo sound in some of the other songs coming at you from right
    and left , why not front and back as well ?

    If they put some old classic songs and dances in the interval , weave
    them into the reel or hd whatever they use , they would attract a lot
    of the older crowd , fun to see ‘cheez hai mast mast’

    The policeman’s swimming pool and the catamaran.

    The dance in Connaught place , Delhi , extremely energetic and the
    very very good ‘party all night’

    The huge white blocks in the quarry , must have been similar to what
    the Egyptians carved and carried downstream, wonder how they do it.

    Aditi’s eye catching dress the first time Akshay sees her.

    Akshay is not gay. He has two children

  5. LOL says:

    Indian movies are so camp that one is surprised they never hanker after the lucrative gay dollar in international territories. This Akshay Kumar guy is obviously gay man, which makes the Indian film industry more progressive than Hollywood.

  6. Piya Agarwal says:

    Mind boggling movie, for this season. I totally enjoyed the show. Akshay was phenomenal, I mean everything was so entertaining and that new girl named Aditi Rao was good, but, she had very less part in the movie to reveal her talent. Songs, (the inseparable, part of Indian movies) were fresh, Honey singh and Meet Bros Anjaan did a fabulous job here. Just go watch, and I am sure you’ll love the show.

  7. Susan says:

    The real boss of brilliant handsome hunks of all times, and all the universe!!!!
    I’ve watched it twice and loved it so much that I’ve became an Akkian today. I’ll go to watch it every Sunday and Saturday when it’s on screens nearby.

    After all, as an Irish girl I should thank Taran Adarsh for his unbiased reviews which persuaded me to see BOSS and made me a fan of heartthrob Akki!!!!

    Akshay’s fitness and energy is impressive, and he shows up as the fittest and sexiest Bollywood actor. With high kicks and a couple of high falls during a parkour-styled chase over the rooftops, he visibly does all his own stunts and fighting “In & As the BOSS”.

    It’s highly recommended to go to the best theater and catch a glimpse of the sexiest boss ever possible, and the nostalgic feelings of the 80’s era. BOSS is a 5 star funny movie. *****

  8. Anmol says:

    thanks for ur reviews:) i am indian i really hate watching hindi masala films.

  9. Dhruv Dhruv says:

    Akshay Kumar is the Kristopher Anton Ashton Kutcher of Bollywood. All he needs now is to date his own Mila “Tina” Kunis! He has captured great fame and fortune, and people world wide have known about his fame! The much Famousness of his fame has help him to create a fan-base world wide of the World Wide Phenomena…. Almost like John “Good Boy” Travolta!….

    And and and and and and and… the only thing “Boss” lacks is Bruce Springsteen and the EZ $treet Luv-Houze Band… And Hot Babes like Aishwarya Rai and and and and if there is… I didn’t read the article correct!

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