Akshay Kumar as Bell Bottom
  • Release Date: 20/08/2021
  • Cast: Akshay Kumar, Vaani Kapoor, Adil Hussain, Huma Qureshi, Lara Dutta
  • Director: Ranjit M. Tewari

Bell Bottom is formulaic, has terrible graphics and lacks novelty but is still somewhat entertaining

— Ambar Chatterjee

An Indian airliner is hijacked by apparent local terrorists and taken to Lahore from where they plan to negotiate with the Indian government. While the Indian bureaucrats want to turn a blind eye to our mischievous and cowardly neighbor, Pakistan’s involvement in the hijack, a covert RAW agent known only as Bell Bottom (Akshay Kumar) is called in to help for his expertise in the matter. Bell Bottom has earlier lost his mother to one such hijack. He walks into a room full of men dismissive of him and lays out the truth in front of the prime minister in the most unsubtle manner possible. After some deliberation, the prime minister allows Bell Bottom to have his way in the negotiation process and ask him to plan and save the hostages before the hijackers could arm-wrestle the Indian government into submitting to their demands. Thus begins the fictional rendering of a true story that turned out to be one of RAW’s finest hours in saving Indian lives and bringing terrorists to justice.

Bell Bottom is a typical Akshay Kumar film in line with his earlier espionage thrillers like BabyNaam Shabana, etc. It ticks every box that a film of this nature and inclination would and it does so with conviction and absolutely no heed to subtlety or care for realism. While the story is inspired by true events, it is apparent that a bulk of the screenplay is fictional and was not envisioned with keeping “proximity to the actual” events in mind. However, one thing that was definitely kept in mind was that the viewers should be given ample entertainment and intrigue through a barrage of ever surmounting and escalating situations that keeps them at the edge of their seats throughout the film. These situations are predominantly the results of the actions of the protagonist. Now! that is always good for a film that wants to thrill and entertain its audiences. An active and forward-pressing protagonist is always an asset for a film.

Akshay Kumar knows every beat of a character like Bell Bottom and he doesn’t have to do anything special to harmoniously sink with the persona of a self sure RAW agent. The comfort that he has garnered over the years playing characters like this and the fact that the audiences enjoy watching him in roles like this is bound to strike a chord with the masses. He has good comic timing and this time around, he has the powerhouse performer, Adil Hussain to act as a foil to not only his comedy but also some interesting dramatic exchanges. They both share gullible chemistry that is likable and infectious in its charm. I believe Akshay did a fantastic job in the sequence where we see him mourn the loss of his mother. That incident has a bearing on everything that he does throughout the rest of the film and it plays an important part in what Bell Bottom becomes. It was a portion well done and Akshay’s rendering of it was one of the reasons behind its successful execution.

Vaani Kapoor and Akshay Kumar

Vaani Kapoor is stunning to look at and she plays a character that, once again, she is totally at home playing. I would love to see her playing more complex and difficult roles that I believe will bring out the best in her. She seems to have the acting guiles and the charm to hold on to one’s attention and selecting some challenging roles will only do her a world of good. Zain Khan Durrani as the primary antagonist is uber cool and immensely hateable at the same time. While he is given just enough screen time and enough edge over the protagonist to make him an adversary to be wary of, I felt that his end could have been better envisioned and crafted. That doesn’t have anything to do with his performance that I felt was spot on. The rest of the cast labor through their bits and that includes Huma Qureshi who is reduced to a side character that she should have avoided playing for her own sake.    

The visual rendering of the film was exceptionally poor. There isn’t anything in it that feels real and that mars the realism of the film on which a lot of its thrills and suspense depends. The green screen is so obvious that it becomes a pathetic distraction once the film reaches its second half. The climactic exchange between the heroes and villains happens with a dust storm brewing in the background and it is this sequence that I believe was the worst executed. Even the aircrafts are rendered in such an amateurish manner that it feels as if a 15-year-old made it using MS Paint. The film is also characterized by a feeling of having been pushed out way too quickly and there are evident rough edges in terms of writing, performances, rendering, and execution.

Bell Bottom seems to adhere to a formula from start to finish and it feels more like an attempt to check the boxes that the formula is made up of rather than being a soulful and dramatic recreation of a tragic incident that ended up being a rousing and exemplary hour of glory for the RAW. Everything in the film feels cardboard-ish and devoid of any real dramatic or emotional depth. Having said that, it is still entertaining and investing enough to keep the audiences hooked for a viewing. That is probably the only thing that works for the film.

Rating: 2.5/5 (2.5 out of 5 Stars)


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