Prime Edition

Ravina Rawal

Prabhudheva plumbs new depths with brain cell genocide

6th Dec 2014

Action Jackson

Director: Prabhudheva

Starring: Ajay Devgn, Sonakshi Sinha, Yami Gautam

I'll get straight to it. Prabhudheva's Action Jackson is a tedious mash of completely random, tacky nonsense that goes to great lengths to annoy you. By the time the interval comes around, you actually want to stab yourself a little to see if you still feel anything, or if it's just your brain that's gone numb in the interest of self-preservation. Turns out your system's fine, because almost two hours in, and the movie's still causing you a world of pain. Which is what made me walk out of Action Jackson, well before credits rolled.

The thing about big films with big money and big names attached to them is that you'll usually find something or the other to keep you even remotely interested; enough to sit through the duration of the film. It will at least have visual appeal because of the exotic locations, elaborate sets, fun clothes, a well-oiled body, the incredulousness of 10-pack abs (full marks for coming up with that one, Bollywood), cool cars, maybe even a simulated tiger. Or they'll throw at you an earworm of an item song, memorable dialogues and/or at least one enjoyable actor in a supporting role. So even if the movie is lacking when it comes to the storyline, even if the director or writer has moulded his/her entire film around the star power of the lead actor instead of the other way around, and even if it all but falls flat on its face, you can still hang on to some semblance of a silver lining to get you through an otherwise dark cloud.

Action Jackson is a fairly big film, but what it stands out for is its shocking inability to hold your attention, and sheer disrespect for basic human intelligence.

Sonakshi Sinha is wildly irritating in her role as an HR head in a company run by a guy who's regularly shown as a barking dog in a shining example of the world's worst graphics. She also has the worst luck in town, which changes when she walks in on a naked Ajay Devgn trying on briefs in a men's dressing room. You'd think this would be a great way to show us what a terribly unlucky girl she is indeed, but no. This singular bump-in has her convinced that for anything good to happen to her, she must now always score a darshan of his bits and bobs first. This isn't even the most absurd thing about the film, which also seems obsessed with food for the entire first half. In a mind-bending new look at how physics works, gol-gappas fly out of a pillion rider's plate and neatly into the mouth of the guy behind him in traffic, plates of what I'm almost certain were aaloo bondas soar through the air and into Devgn's mouth in the middle of a really, really long fight sequence, squirting ketchup on a bad guy's face gets him worse than a hand grenade would. Between unending loops of 1980s-type "ah-ha-ha, oh-ho-ho" music, there's also a posse of "deadly" gangsters walking around in scarlet three-piece suits, led by a guy who thinks it's perfectly acceptable to wear a unicorn pendant around his neck and talk like an African Eeyore on a particularly depressing day ("WHAIR. IS. AJ?" is his most hardcore dialogue).

Devgn plays a good boy, no, bad boy, no wait, Robin Hood, lover boy, serial fighter, waiter, goody-two-shoes punching bag who makes you want to set aside your popcorn and take a real swing at the screen, especially when he tries to sneak into a double role. (Oh. Belated spoiler alert, sorrynotsorry.) The film also stars Yami Gupta and newcomer Manasvi Mamgai, but it's been an hour since I watched the movie and I no longer remember what the point of them was.

I won't bother with commenting on the excrutiating music or choreography, because that "Surya ast, Punjabi mast" song and dance says it all without my help. I will, however, give a special shout-out to whoever was in the editing studio. Sometimes, a really bad movie can be salvaged by clever editing. Here, the editors either realised there was just absolutely nothing they could do so they didn't even try, or they're hooked onto some new drug that the rest of us are still to discover. The result? Random cuts and disconnected scenes clunked together like a Rubik's cube you've mindlessly jumbled and now will never be able to solve.

The highlight of the film is Shahid Kapoor's cameo in the song Punjabi Mast. That's over and done with in the first 15-20 minutes, after which it's more than safe to walk right out of the movie hall, without any fear of missing out.

- Ravina Rawal

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