Maharani Gayatri Devi of Jaipur was arrested during the Emergency and imprisoned for five months. This was not because she rejected the advances of Sanjay Gandhi, as this film would have it. She was jailed for alleged tax violations. Nor did she appear on the cover of ‘Life’ magazine as one of the ten most beautiful women in the world, as a visual in the film suggests. It was ‘Vogue’ that so honoured her.
‘Baadshaho’ takes a few such liberties with the history of the period. The fictional Maharani Gitanjali Devi (Ileana D’Cruz) has a raid conducted on her palace, after which all her gold is confiscated by the Government. However, controlling operations from her prison cell, she arranges for a palace loyalist called Bhawani ( Ajay Devgn) to conduct a heist on the truck transporting the treasure to Delhi. The dramatic hijack of the lorry, the double crossing and the triple crossing that mark the events to follow, and, finally, the royal twist in the tail, is the entertainment in the film.
Milan Luthria has been known for directing period films like ‘Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai’ and ‘The Dirty Picture’, and doing them reasonably well. But in ‘Baadshaho’ he just isn’t able to pull it off. The setting is tolerable, but the screenplay and the dialogues are poorly written. Worst of all is the half hearted relationship that is etched between Bhawani and the Maharani. It is supposed to be a love affair between a Queen and her subject, but is presented in a sterile manner, with not a jot of passion. Both actors are as stiff as boards, and, consequently, the dramatic recovery of the Maharani’s gold has no emotional quotient added to it. The whole thing ends up as nothing more than a mindless action sequence.
The only amusement that remains in the film is in observing the quirky characters of the crack team assembled by Bhawani. One is a resident lothario called Dalia (Emraan Hashmi), who is always found lounging around bars and discotheques. He attends the erotic dance of Sunny Leone, and falls all over her in an ‘item’ song. The other character is a highly skilled lock picker called Tikla (Sanjay Mishra). He is able to open doors with the simplest of tools. He does a jail break for the team by glancing meaningfully down the cleavage of the fourth member of the band, Sanjana (Esha Gupta). The lady follows his glance and removes her bra fastener, loaning it to him for picking the lock of the prison.
Tikla is the funniest person in the movie, and such is the poor quality of all round entertainment from the stars in ‘Baadshaho’, that this character actor, doing no more than his usual routine, ends up as the most memorable performer in the film.
So, without doubt, this is the most disappointing multi-star action movie of the year.