The dialogue writer of this film seem to have started with a blank page and liberally splattered the word ‘kick’ all over it. Then they wove these words together with other words. Never mind that when strung together they made no sense. As long as the audience was told 300 times that Salman Khan’s character, Devi Lal Singh, aka Devil, had only one interest in life – getting a kick.
Jacqueline Fernandez plays Shaina, a psychiatrist, which means she sports glasses to look intellectual but is never actually seen working in a clinic or with patients. In fact she quite easily globe trots with her diplomat father (Saurabh Shukla) who is keen to get her married to top cop Himanshu (Randeep Hooda). Besides looking troubled most of the time, there is very little she brings to the part.
On a train journey through Poland, Shaina tells Himanshu about her one true love, Devi, and he tells her about his nemesis, Devil. It takes another one hour for them to figure out, they are both talking about the same person.
Devil’s crosshairs are trained firmly on Shiv (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), another devil in disguise. Posing as a do-gooder health minister, he is corrupting the health care system while lining his own coffers. Siddiqui is menacing and funny and rises beyond the pedestrian script to fashion a character that could be straight out of a Marvel comic book.
Hooda too is impressive as the no-nonsense cop who knows when he has been outwitted and beaten. Siddiqui and Hooda’s scenes, with or without Salman Khan, stand out. In the tradition of all south Indian scripts (‘Kick’ is a remake of a Telugu film), the girl eventually excuses herself from the scene never to be seen again.
Following on from ‘Jai Ho’, in ‘Kick’ Khan once again unsubtly drives home a social message. Disguised simply by an eye mask, Devil blatantly robs from the corrupt to cure sick children: a modern Robin Hood type. Seeing a recovering child’s smile becomes the biggest kick of his life. He gets away with lawlessness and hoodwinking the cops all too easily – but that’s because he’s an invincible Bollywood-style saviour.
Since Nadiadwala is both producer and director, he has pulled out all stops. What he lacks in originality he makes up for with expansive action scenes and over the top production design. The action is rather impressive, like the bus chase (but why is a No. 10 London bus racing through the streets of Warsaw?), and cycle-motorbike chase. Yes, for some reason, all roads lead to Warsaw where the pre-climax plays out. Another smart move by Nadiadwala is to surround Khan with reliable actors like Hooda, Siddiqui, Vipin Sharma and Saurabh Shukla thereby raising the bar in at least 50 percent of the scenes.
As a Salman Khan vehicle, there are tiresome references to Dabangg and Being Human. But Salman does what he does best – he’s cutesy, charming, determined and in control. But in the end it’s Siddiqui you want to see more of. A Joker-Batman face-off would have been far more rewarding than the emotional manipulation and prolonged set up that preceded Shiv’s entry.
Khan’s fans may get a kick out of the ending that is left wide open for a possible sequel. If there is one, let’s hope the writers give us a kick by bringing Shiv back too!