Film Review: Bombay To Bangkok

Film: Bombay to Bangkok

Banner: Mukta Searchlight Films

Director: Nagesh Kukunoor

Producer: Rahul Puri

Cinematographer: Sudeep Chatterjee

Editor: Sanjib Datta

Cast: Shreyas Talpade, Lena, Vijay Maurya, Vikram Inamdar, Yatin Karyekar & Naseeruddin Shah

Rating: 3.5/10

Bombay To Bangkok fails to take you on a ride. Take your popcorn and go for a walk instead.

This is perhaps the best time for Hindi films of the comic genre to thrive. Audiences are awakening to different comic styles and comedy has evolved from comic relief to becoming mainstream. This is good news for this sorely neglected variety of films which still have long way to go in gaining as much popularity as romance does or action used to in the past. Unfortunately, it might be under-produced films like ‘Bombay to Bangkok’ that may dent the progress of this slowly budding genre even while adding to the rising river.

Tacky, listless and misplaced in its sense of humour, ‘Bombay to Bangkok’ is the story of a small-town hotel cook documenting his escapades from Bombay to Bangkok. Shankar finds a bag full of money, makes off with it and loses it, only to have the Mumbai mafia kingpin hunt him relentlessly. The rest of the movie revolves around his attempts to regain the money during which he finds and loses the love of a beautiful girl who is also a prostitute. This culminates in a criminal expose to clear his and her name and to gain her love back.

There is a thin line between a crisp and a holey screenplay. Between telling too much and telling too little. Between tedious and sparse. The thin line makes a vast difference. ‘Bombay to Bangkok’ is the product of such mistakes which repeatedly harm the narrative from taking effect. Foolishness marries corny marries smarty-pants type of humour and leaves one famished for some respite from a die-hard attempt to be ‘different’. The narrative jumps from point to point evidently in a laudable effort to credit the audience’s intelligence but ends in seeming more than porous. Set-ups and lead-ins have been mercilessly massacred to make the film pacy and modern in its approach to the obvious. What it overlooks is the fact that even the obvious needs to be stated sometimes for the larger good of the film.

BOMBAY TO BANGKOK is also harmed by a forced climax which seems out of place in the world of the film. Lack of imagination and desperate attempt to make the film mainstream spoils what could have been salvaged. Yet another example of lack of attention to story-telling.

The effective-ness of this rom-com is further diluted with a one-dimensional heroine who never speaks in an understandable language. The film breathes the philosophy of ‘love knows no language barriers’ and fails to convince (or at least touch us) us of the same.

As a romantic comedy the film required a breadth of performances, gags and dialogues that elevated it to a more fun-filled ride. The characters with comic punches including Shreyas’ character remain wanting in hearty comic-kery, a la Vinay Pathak-Ranvir Sheorey. 

The film pays continual tribute to Farah Khan’s ‘Main Hoon Na’ with many a punches as direct references. Nevertheless, the flavour of BOMBAY TO BANGKOK does not bring out the heady mix of the original with its cartoon-style humour despite following its recipe. 

Shreyas fails in a role which required an unbridled participation in the humour or emotion of the moment. He comes across as unexciting and bland despite the multiple options his role gives him to live it up. Lena Christensen looks pretty and sexy as and when she is supposed to but is hugely handicapped by a under-written role that treats her as a foreigner to the film rather than one of the protagonists. Lack of definition, as evident in other characters is evident here as well. Amongst these listless performance stands out the performance of Manmeet Singh who plays the rapper Don Jr who has childhood repression anxieties with a child-like delight.

Bombay to Bangkok is also an example of the growing trend of spurious fictional space or framework within which a story is told. Realities are becoming faker and escapism is being taken more lightly than it deserves. The worlds created on the screen fail to resonate because of their faulty backgrounding. Aaja Nachle was a similar failure in recent times.

For all its multiple flaws ‘Bombay to Bangkok’ re-affirms the emergence of the various styles of comedy being explored by mainstream film-makers. Hindi films have come a long way from comedy that was fat, funny-looking men and women with caricatured lines making clownish faces at the camera. BOMBAY TO BANGKOK might not be as enjoyable as it could have been but it marks a slight contribution in the needy bank of our sensibility of humour. One just wishes it was better-made.