The 'Players' Review

For years, people have joked about a big budget Bollywood movie that would eradicate plot and characters altogether and simply cut to the idiocy. Abbas-Mustan have finally done it.  SFX, car chases and a big cast making loud noises do not camouflage  an idiotic movie, and Players emerges as a spectacular achievement in stupidity and monotony. Just when you thought Prince couldn't have been any more rubbish, along comes Players to prove you wrong.   

Players stars the extremely talented ensemble of Abhishek Bachchan, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Bobby Deol, Sonam Kapoor, Bipasha Basu and it makes you pay for every two seconds of pleasure with 10 seconds of pain, courtesy of the ghastly acting and plot holes colossal enough to fit Mars in. Although terrible, this film does raise valid questions - Why does Bollywood keep assuming the audience is a flock of extinct flightless birds? Why would anyone still hire Omi Vaidya to act in a movie? Why would someone like Vinod Khanna agree to be in this mess? Extensive market research shows that there's a niche audience out there for such travesties like Players - orangutans whose hearing and mental abilities are diminished. 

Messrs. Abbas-Mustan mercilessly mutilate both The Italian Job movies and replace their chic vibe for one that resembles an acid-trip episode of Yule Love Stories. Where both the Hollywood films were enjoyable thrill rides, Players is more like a sudden kick in your jewels. Here we have good guy Charlie (Abhishek Bachchan) who wants to build a school for kids by drawing up a plan to steal some gold that is on board a train from Russia to Romania. He rounds up a motley gang of Victor Dada (Vinod Khanna), Ronnie (Bobby Deol), Riya (Bipasha Basu), Spider (Neil Nitin Mukesh), Bilal (Sikander Kher), Sunny (Omi Vaidya), Naina (Sonam Kapoor). Just like in the original, one gang member double-crosses them and makes off with the booty.   

Like in Race, there are twists, and the plot jumps more signals than a fugitive ambulance - in fact the second half is so topsy-turvy that even the actors are unable to keep track of what exactly is meant to be happening. It becomes clear that the cash-hungry Abbas-Mustan never really understood what the makers of The Italian Job did that made it great. The whole of Players seems to sweat from Abbas-Mustan’s effort to just make every single scene masaledaar.

The characters, just like the lines are monumentally foolish. Ten years ago it was cool for Bollywood actors to mouth ‘babay’. Players is the punishment for relishing that. In fact if you collect all the scenes with legible dialogue, they still wouldn't add up to the time one needs to boil one egg. At one point our heroes buy their ‘heist equipment’ from a store called Gizmo - a great example of the sort of visionary heavy-handedness that conduits generations of filmmakers. The special effects are plenty but are not very special, and they're just flung at us mechanically. The tone of the movie is posh gloss, but it stinks of landfill.   

Abhishek Bachchan is as uncharismatic as ever. The inconsistency between Mr. Bachchan’s 'hey look at me' heroic posing and his expressions, which come off as a hilarious cross between Vivek Mushran and Nakul Kapur, has never been more jarring. Sikander Kher’s character carries all the intensity of a Sesame Street warrior. Sonam Kapoor delivers her lines in a monotone - her mood is red, her clothes are blue and her performance is horrible. A few actors grace the big screen, a few excel on the small screen, and those like Neil Nitin Mukesh are obscured by your palm screen. The less said about Bobby Deol the better – it is actually physically painful to watch him here. Bipasha Basu gives the impression that even if you turn your mind off to its lowermost possible functionality, you’ll still over-think her.   

Players is an awful, uninteresting, infuriating, and never ending disaster. Those with low threshold of pain should skip it. But the film is legendarily bad, and fans of truly wretched cinema will love Bollywood history's most inept remake just for the jaw-drop value alone. Double bill Players with the also ludicrous Luck and you’ll have a new kind of accidental torture-porn cinema.

First published in Mumbai Boss

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