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By making poor use of three big stars, Besharam ends up a genre-confused home movie
CAST Ranbir Kapoor, Pallavi Sharda | DIRECTOR Abhinav Kashyap

Besharam is not offensively in-your-face, and, in the present con•text, that’s good news. It’s about a car mechanic in Delhi who moonlights as a car thief. He likes the colour red and steals two cars of that hue during the film—the first from a Housing Society in the dead of night and the second in broad daylight from outside the office of the girl he has fallen in love with.

Unfortunately, the second car turns out to be the girl’s, but by the time Babli (Ranbir Kapoor) discovers this, he has already changed the licence plate and sent it to Chandigarh. So now he has to ‘re-steal’ it from a don in ‘The City Beautiful’ and woo the girl (Pallavi Sharda) by showing her what a well-connected mechanic he is and how he knows all about ‘tracking’ stolen cars. This, basically, is the entire plot. It is slim, and so director Abhinav Kashyap has to pad it with lots of slapstick.

Babli, too, pads up—one of his techniques for attraction is to tuck smelly socks into the front of his jeans to make his crotch appear more prominent. He is a sadak chhaap, an orphan with no last name and education, and this seduction strategy comes from his naive one-track mind.

Ranbir plays the part with his customary Buster Keaton-silent-cinema style of athletic comedy, but it looks a bit silly here because, unlike in Barfi, the film is not stylised in other respects, not a take-off on a cinematic genre. The movie is straight narrative; so straight that even the Chandigarh Don is played sinister instead of camp by comedian Javed Jaffrey.

The real blunder, though, is the casting of Ranbir’s real life parents (Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh) as part of the Delhi Police force trying to catch Babli. Because the Kapoor family is so emblematic of the film industry, a certain barrier of illusion is shattered and Besharam ends up looking like a big budget ‘home movie’ that an audience may be reluctant to take seriously as entertainment.

Surely, Besharam has interpreted the term ‘in-house’ too literally