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Updated on: Saturday, November 06, 2021, 02:10 PM IST

Sooryavanshi review: This Akshay Kumar-starrer is less fun and too preachy, making it a dull watch

The narrative has loopholes entire battalions could drive through — which wouldn’t have mattered if the pacing had been better and more outlandish
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Sooryavanshi's has to be the mother of all misleading trailers. All those expecting three stars for the price of one ticket will have to do with one star and two glorified cameos who barely manage to salvage this leaden-footed wannabe ‘entertainer’. Unfortunately, the movie has little to offer even those expecting little beyond a good old festive blast of an outing.

The narrative begins — yes, for a change there’s actually something resembling a plot here, never mind which way it goes — with the Mumbai blasts of 1993. Its architect, Omar Hafiz (Jackie Shroff), operates from Pakistan, while perpetrator-in-chief, Bilal (Kumud Mishra, lending his character a rare nuance and gravitas for the film), escapes the clutches of the chief investigator, Kabir Shroff (Javed Jafferi). There’s the missing RDX — it seems 1000 kg of it was brought in but only 400 kg was used in the blasts. The rest lie buried somewhere unknown to the authorities. Years later, Hafiz has placed 40 sleeper cells, coordinated by his son Riaaz (Abhimanyu Singh), all over India, and it’s time to put the missing RDX to use.

Enter super-cop, Veer Sooryavanshi (Akshay Kumar). Of course, there’s only one way this can go from here. However, the film never gets off the ground. The problem is twofold. One, the action is strangely muted and whatever there is seems like leftovers from the earlier films in Rohit Shetty’s oeuvre. Two, though Veer is described as ‘woh paagal officer’ at the outset, there’s little of the eccentricities that marked the cops in Singham and Simmba and made them entertaining to watch despite their problematic moral compass. The only aspect that remotely resembles ‘sanak’ in Veer’s character is his propensity to call everyone by wrong names.

The narrative has loopholes entire battalions could drive through — which wouldn’t have mattered if the pacing had been better and more outlandish. The women in the film are immaterial (Katrina Kaif even does ‘Tip, tip barsa paani’ as if to show us how little women in mainstream Bollywood have evolved in the interim). There’s the bigger problem of the othering of a community, albeit couched in standard Bollywood Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai fare with Veer’s ‘secular’ pitch ending up grating and patently false. Just look at the sequence where female family members of a terror suspect (Gulshan Grover, largely wasted) are brought in for a mock-torture (with a distasteful sexual innuendo thrown in for good measure) or the throwaway claim that the scrapping of Article 370 has made it impossible for terrorists to operate on Indian soil.

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Shetty’s cop films operate in a universe of their own, immune to critical analysis or logic. Cars turning turtle, officers who appear just that little bit off their rocker, putting on their shades in slo-mo flourish while disembarking from their vehicles to the accompaniment of a booming background score complete with shloka-like incantations, eye-popping action that defy all laws of physics, and broad-strokes articulation of ‘Breaking News’ social issues. All served with a dash of unsubtle humour and thundering dialogue baazi. It’s masala, it’s entertaining — and the industry, emerging from the pandemic, needs some unadulterated high-voltage masala to reboot. But this film offers little of these box-office staples.

The action is moth-eaten, the pace sluggish, the humour juvenile (Veer calls someone Garbhwati instead of Saraswati, among many other such instances!) and the proceedings do not even have the lightness of touch — despite the pyrotechnics involving Ranveer Singh and Ajay Devgn in the last half-hour — that could have put this across as another milestone in Bollywood’s tryst with brainless escapism.

Title: Sooryavanshi

Director: Rohit Shetty

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Abhimanyu Singh, Kumud Mishra, Jackie Shroff, Javed Jafferi, Gulshan Grover, Ranveer Singh, Ajay Devgn

Rating: 1 star

(Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri is an award-winning publisher, editor and a film buff)

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Published on: Sunday, November 07, 2021, 07:00 AM IST
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