Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Lara Dutta, Irrfan Khan, Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Rajpal Yadav
Kuselan, the Tamil film starring Rajnikanth primarily celebrated the fact that he is a Superstar. It was all about sheer indulgence and more of a branding reaffirmation exercise than anything else. Billu is a dismal remake of the same film and the sad part is that instead of taking off or adding to the Tamil film, it actually is a step down.
The film beyond the fact that seems like a celebration of being King Khan unravels the life of a small town barber, Billu (Irrfan Khan). When famous actor Sahir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) comes to Billu’s villiage to shoot for a film, it is Billu’s life that turns to hell.
Once a friend of the super star; Billu is faced with pressure from fellow villagers to have him set up a meeting with the actor. But the long lost friends seem to have grown apart and the poor barber has no way of reminding the famous actor about their shared history. Put in an awkward spot, circumstances lead Billu to lie on various occasions till eventually he is cornered. What follows is the revealing of the humble beginnings of a Superstar, one happy Barber and a super cheerful Villiage.
Take the driving of super stardom out of the film and you’ve got yourself this sweet and sensitive film; add it and you are left to find that sweet film amidst the hullabaloo of an iconic star status of one man. The biggest problem with Billu is the fact that there are two stories being told here and they come together only towards the end of the film. That’s not even the main problem; the problem lies in the unconvincing manner in which the two lives meet.
It’s like unlike any other Priyadarshan film and honestly one doesn’t think that’s a good thing. The film is neither funny like all his other film, nor as beautifully told as Kanchipuram is. What’s also evident is the fact that at every point where the film slows down or has nothing new to tell, in comes scenes with Khan or a song to pick it up.
If that were to add to the film, its great, but the fact that it doesn’t do anything for the film is disappointing. If you have seen Kuselan you’d know that the plainness and blandness of the film is the biggest hampering factor and the same is the case with Billu. The dialogues are just ok, there’s no sparkle in any line. The aspirational value that most Khan films have is also missing and neither is there humour to entertain (barring one hilarious scene that you simply have to see).
With on the surface characters, the film really does not delve into the background of the characters; something which Kuselan to a certain extent did. The film breaks out into song at will and delves into this emotional saga at will. Watch the scene where for a few seconds you are watching a montage of past SRK films, simply pleasure-seeking or watch the part where Khan is delivering this minute odd monologue trying to conclude the film, exhausting.
What’s a great plus in the film is the manner in which it is captured. The sleekness of the film is great. The editing on the other hand serves the purpose though it could have certainly been more cohesive. The songs in general come and go at will. The choreography is great to watch. The film in its various bits and pieces is great but the truth is something about it just does not fit together.
Irrfan Khan does a great job with his role, he lives it and is thoroughly convincing. Shah Rukh Khan is the Super Star and thus essentially gets into the role with great ease, but it is in the end when he is delivering his monologue his convincing act turns unnatural. Dutta as Irrfan’s wife puts up a rather somber act and is just unconvincing. It is the additional characters that essentially do nothing for the film and take away from the good ride the film could have been.
Billu is this mild ride that tries to find simplicity somewhere amidst a whole lot of hubbub. Billu is ‘Bhayankarly’ flavorless.