Cast: Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutta, Huma Qureshi, Vaani Kapoor, Adil Hussain, Thalaivasal Vijay, Abhijit Lahiri
Director: Ranjit M Tewari
Critic’s Rating: 3.5/5
STORY: An undercover agent code-named Bellbottom embarks on a covert mission to free 210 hostages held by hijackers.
REVIEW: In the espionage thriller Bell Bottom, Akshay Kumar plays a Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) undercover agent who goes by the code name ‘Bell Bottom’. After a plane is hijacked and lands in Amritsar, the seventh hijacking incident in five years, Kumar is brought in to save the day. The film centres around his plans of a daring covert operation to rescue 210 hostages and neutralise four hijackers. The fact that his operation is connected to personal tragedy makes it more impactful.
Like several other Kumar’s films that are inspired by real incidents, this Ranjit Tiwari directorial is based on the two events that happened in the late 70s and early 80s during Indira Gandhi’s time as the Prime Minister of India. It’s commendable that the movie was shot during the pandemic across various locations in India and Scotland.
Kumar’s smashing entry as Bell Bottom certainly attracts some whistles and cheering as one can’t ignore the fact that he looks dapper at 53. He’s slim, fit and agile, and sports a sharp Army-man personality. Bell Bottom who is seen playing husband to Vaani Kapoor is a national-level chess player. He has a sharp memory and is fluent in Hindi, English, French and German. Vaani Kapoor as Kumar’s wife is gorgeous on screen and even with a limited screen time, she supports her character well. The film also stars Adil Hussain, Huma Qureshi and Lara Dutta in pivotal roles. Given the kind of buzz that the film had been generating, mostly around Dutta’s make-up, we can certainly say that her makeover as former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is pretty neat. She is hardly recognisable! Huma Qureshi appears to help the Indian team out while they rescue Indian citizens stuck on the hijacked plane.
Akshay Kumar is in full form and dependably strong. He uses his star power to the fullest, with gusto. Portraying Indira Gandhi on screen is no mean feat and Dutta looks confident and convincing in the part. Kumar’s mother is played by Dolly Ahluwalia and they share some touching as well as funny scenes together.
Written by Aseem Arrora and Parveez Shaikh, the film is engaging and manages to hold your attention for all of 123 minutes. However, you will have to hold on to every minute of the action as it unfolds as there is a lot of back and forth in the storyline. The pace of the film remains steady and the narrative and characters don’t lose momentum.
While you ride along with the story, the incidents that unfold don’t really absorb you emotionally. With a film of this genre, you’d expect a lot of goosebump moments, but this isn’t the case. Also, the film leaves you with several unanswered questions, such as the hostages’ agony and the terrorists’ hijacking plans. The climax of the film is a tad underwhelming and winds up abruptly.
Overall, the film has its flaws, but it doesn’t fail to entertain. ‘Bell Bottom’ lives up to the charm of a Bollywood, big-scale commercial film that deserved to be released on the big screen. And, of course, the fact that this film marks the reopening of theatres after months of shutdown due to the second wave of the pandemic, moviegoers can treat themselves to a grand cinema experience with this one.