Cast:Akshay Kumar, Asin, Mithun Chakraborty and Himesh Reshammiya
Ashish R Mohan
Beyond the numbers, caricatures abound: a tough Punjabi munda whose fists are as fast as lightning when he takes on the baddies; a feisty Marathi mulgi who turns into a maniac when she gets behind the wheels of a car; and a luckless Gujju boy who cannot stay out of trouble.
Neither is that all – a Canadian mother, a Chinese aunt and an African grandmother are added to the broth. It’s the united colours of Punjab. Khiladi 786 is every bit as hopelessly mixed-up as that sounds.
It might make good business sense for a Bollywood A-lister to lay his claims on an old, lucrative franchise, but the sport that the khiladi plays on the comeback trail is going to be anything but a game-changer.
Khiladi 786 has nothing new to offer. It is cut from the same cloth that has yielded many of Akshay Kumar's recent vehicles. These films have sought to cash in on his rough and rowdy screen persona. Khiladi 786 does more of the same.
In short, it is another outright assault on the senses. The comedy is crass, the acting borders on the slapstick, and the general air that hangs over the film is one of utter lunacy. The loudness is accentuated manifold by an ear-splitting background score.
Given the wild palette it dips itself into, Khiladi 786 is just the sort of film that could leave you colour blind. The hero – he is called Bahattar Singh (Akshay Kumar) – dons the most garish riot of hues, from pink to purple, from red to russet.
And his truck is yuck. It's like a prehistoric vehicle that has emerged from a slushy pond of abandoned paints.
This man who answers to a number spouts the most meaningless lines and resorts to all the pea-brained pyrotechnics that come with the territory.
It’s unlikely he’d be able to count beyond two. Seventy-two is way, way outside his ken. What makes matters worse for him - and the audience - is that he has a missing brother. Yes, you've guessed it, his name, too, is a number.
Our man Bahattar belongs to a clan of conmen masquerading as cops who help nab smugglers on the Punjab border and, in the bargain, pocket a share of the booty.
The patriarch of this bizarre brood is Sattar Singh (Raj Babbar), who has a brother named Ikhattar Singh (Mukesh Rishi).
You can sing along with these strange beings, but chances are you’d look for the nearest exit by the time the number reaches a crescendo.
Bahattar has a problem: he is looking for a bride but no girl in the vicinity of "district Malkhanpur, village Taasi" is willing to marry him.
Enter Mansukh Desai (Himesh Reshammiya), a Mumbai boy who has been disowned by his marriage bureau owner-dad for repeatedly making a hash of the business.
Both Bahattar and Mansukh have a point to prove and when their paths predictably cross all hell breaks loose.
For Bahattar, matchmaker Mansukh zeroes in on Indu Tendulkar (Asin), who happens to be the sister of an underworld don Tatya Tukaram Tendulkar (Mithun Chakraborty).
Indu is no mean lady and has her own way of keeping unwanted suitors at bay. This "psycho baiko" has a boyfriend - a jailbird who can never keep out of trouble.
The countdown begins when Bahattar and his family land at the Mumbai don's house to solemnise the guy's wedding with Indu. The mayhem that results is what the rest of the film is about.
Director Ashish R. Mohan, erstwhile Rohit Shetty's assistant, clearly believes that playing by the numbers is that all one needs to do in order to rustle up a laugh riot.
Unfortunately for him, an action comedy is a hard game to tame. What does he have at his disposal? A hammy khiladi, a couple of songs that pass muster and a whole bunch of stuntmen flying all over the place.
The gags that he strings together are too unfunny and tiresome to lift the film out of its morass.
Any saving graces? There is one, but it doesn't quite serve the purpose. Himesh Reshammiya, does what sounds like a send-up on his much-ridiculed nasal voice in one number - not too bad. He spoils it all a few minutes later by crooning a love ditty in pretty much the same style, this time around in right earnest.
All said and done, Khiladi 786 is not half as bad as Joker. But is that saying much?