For a while, there is the indication that Anthony D’Souza’s Boss will shape up to be a solid masala outing. There’s a sense of bigness at the beginning, a reference to the events being played out on the hallowed ground of Kurukshetra, and this is followed by a stretch that combines emotion and action and a hint of mystery. An attack on the life of Big Boss (Danny Denzongpa) is foiled by a youngster who happens to be at the scene. When Big Boss asks the boy his name, he simply says, “Bhoolna chahoonga,” that he wants to forget his roots. The buildup to the hero’s entry is pretty good too. After this scene that introduces Big Boss to us, we get the scene where we meet the hero’s father (Mithun Chakraborty), who’s first seen under a portrait of Gandhi and who wears Gandhi glasses, and in case we’re still not clued into this man’s goodness, we hear his name: Satyakant. Then we meet Shiva (Shiv Pandit), the hero’s younger brother. Then we meet the villain, Inspector Ayushman Thakur (Ronit Roy). And only then does Surya (Akshay Kumar) make his appearance, in an action-comedy scene where he brings along his own music and cheerleaders.
Boss is adapted from the Malayalam hit Pokkiri Raja, whose reviews were mostly condescending – but writing for a masala movie is not easy. The must-haves are many, the scope to be different very little, and yet, if you do the same thing, you’ll be accused of having no imagination. And Boss has some good bits. There’s a flashback with a solid punch line. There’s an interesting father-son clash, with the father having to hire the older son’s services to save the younger one. There’s a funny action scene whose lines are inscribed on Surya’s torso. And there are at least two well-choreographed action sequences, the first a parkour-styled chase through high and low, and the second, a series of surreptitious moves by the sons to save their father. (So many crotches are maimed that entire generations of villainy appear to have been wiped out.)
You could even point to some unintentional comedy. Shiva says he met Ankita (Aditi Rao Hydari) at a cultural fest, where he was smitten by her eyes, and the next scene has her rising from a pool in a two-piece bikini – the audience for this movie is certainly not going to be looking at those eyes. Funnier still is the choice of love song for this duo, a rehash of the Jaanbaaz hit, Har kisiko nahin milta. (There’s another rehash, from Ghilli’s Appidi podu.) It’s a wistful song about the difficulty in finding love, and it’s strange that these two are striking poses to it – but given Ankita’s wardrobe (or lack of it), few people will be wondering about such inconsistencies. But this is nothing when compared to Satyakant’s apparent indestructibility. He survives a collision with a truck with just a plaster on his forehead.
The problem with Boss is that after the initial promise, it falls flat. D’Souza wants to keep things lighthearted, but this is not the tone you take when you begin your film with a reference to Kurukshetra and when, at the end, the hero is exhorted to become a warrior out of myth. (“Arjun ka roop dhaaran karna hai tujhe aaj…”) This sort of premise needs a lot of thunder and lightning, and without that, there’s nothing. There’s no juice in the drama – the events surrounding a rape accusation, or Ankita’s renunciation of her brother (she is, of course, the villain’s sister) – and given the weightlessness of the proceedings, the villain’s villainy (he’s the kind who’ll give a loaded gun to a bothersome child) is ridiculously overwrought. Akshay Kumar does what he can to keep things afloat, taking care of the action and the drama and the comedy, but unless you’re Amitabh Bachchan, these one-man circus shows are never a good idea.
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