It is debatable if it is a mere co-incidence that within a month two films highlighting the atrocities inflicted on people during the emergency era got released. While Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar is said to have been one of the main reasons for toppling of Pehlaj Nihalani’s sarkar at the Censor Board, it remains to be seen what Milan Luthria’s Baadshaho manages to spring on us.

Baadshaho’s story follows the adventures of four trusted loyalists of the princess of Jodhpur, Rani Gitanjali (Illeana D’cruz). Spurned by Gitanjali, politician Sanjeev (played by Priyanshu Chatterjee and quite obviously modelled after Sanjay Gandhi) gets back by taking away all her hidden ancestral jewellery by organising a police raid. Geetanjali convinces Bhuvan (Ajay Devgn), her former bodyguard and current paramour, to intercept the truck carrying the jewellery to Delhi and return it back to her. Bhuvan forms a team of three – Tikla (Sanjay Mishra), Dalia (Emraan Hashmi) and Sanjana (Esha Gupta) – to help him carry out the heist. He, however, has a tough opponent in the form of an army man, Seher (Vidyut Jamwal).

Baadshaho could have been set in any time period. It actually doesn’t matter. But the film seems to think making its characters wear bell bottoms is enough to convey the period it seeks to portray. This half-hearted attempt of a movie only once in a while seems to suddenly remember that it is supposed to be set bang in the middle of the Emergency era, so a stray shot or two about poor people suffering or being put into jails are randomly interposed, before it is conveniently forgotten again.

The film’s dialogues range from cheesy to corny to outright cringeworthy (written by Rajat Arora). Its background music follows its own beat, unmindful of what’s happening in the foreground. Actors seem to be falling all over each other to make it all believable but failing miserably. But the main culprit is the execution that is so jaded and predictable that even if you dozed off and woke up after an hour, you would know exactly what’s happening on the screen.

Ajay Devgn as the dare devil Bhuvan is sincere but looks tired. Probably the exhaustion comes from having to spout dialogues such as, “chaar din ki zindagi hai aur yeh chautha din hai” or “Aapka sone ka carat mere character nahi badlega”, or the most precious of them all, “Woh army hai toh hum haraami hain” – and that too in a bad Rajasthani accent. Illeana tries hard but doesn’t manage to look or behave her part. Only her trying hard shows. Emraan Hashmi sleep walks through the film, as his badly-written character is only defined by a bad dress sense and a few fake tattoos. Esha Gupta is obviously employed for ornamental purposes. Vidyut Jamwal in one chase sequence shows us that he deserves much more than what gets offered to him.

And, of course, there is the mandatory item number by Sunny Leone who, sitting in a vat full of water, is made to lip sync a song with lyrics that say “Sharam tujhe kyun hai aati…yahaan toh sab hai naughty”.

Bhuvan reminds us again and again about chaar din ki zindagi. Take his advice. Life is too short to waste almost three hours on this film.

Baadshaho (2017).