September Issue 2014

By | Arts & Culture | Movies | Published 10 years ago

This year, Richard Linklater’s masterpiece Boyhood released. The American filmmaker shot this film over 12 years, just a few weeks each year, to give cinegoers a document, a sort of time-capsule of a boy growing up. It certainly couldn’t have been easy. Imagine the planning, the actual shooting process, the editing… That the film turned out as perfect as it did is nothing short of astonishing. Boyhood is a flawless piece of cinema, not only the film of the year, but perhaps of the decade.

Alas, this review is not about Boyhood or other decade-defining films. It’s a review of Kick, the latest Salman Khan picture. Directed by Sajid Nadiadwala, I can only hope that the same levels of dedication went into the planning, shooting and editing of Kick. Sadly, none of those are apparent. Kick isn’t all bad, like other Salman Khan films, but it’s far from good. It reminds me of that episode of Friends, where Joey Tribbiani thinks that ‘abysmal’ is a good thing. Well, I guess Kick is abysmal — and Salman Khan is a bit like Joey. An entertaining and charming character, who is quite the ladies’ man, but who doesn’t appear to be very bright.

There’s a scene in Kick, where there is some sort of important meeting at which something happens, and then, suddenly, we are witnessing a car-chase sequence. All this is happening in the Polish capital of Warsaw, because of cheap production costs. However, the most confusing thing about the sequence is a red double-decker bus, normally found in London. What’s that about? Salman is driving a bus headed to King’s Cross Station (it says so on the front), which is definitely not in Warsaw, but in London. Did the makers just think, ‘Oh never mind, the red one looks nice’?

As a critic, it’s easy to write off Salman Khan films. They are usually rubbish, with a nauseous amount of self-referencing to how great a person Salman Khan is. Kick is no different (there’s an actual reference to his NGO), but despite all that nonsense, it’s hard not to be mildly entertained.

What sets Kick apart from Salman Khan’s previous vehicles is the supporting cast. Apart from Randeep Hooda, Nawazuddin Siddiqui finds himself in a big entertainer this time around. The couple provide actual acting chops, something that seems to have been lacking in previous bhai-flicks. It also goes to show that Salman Khan has no ego and is willing to surround himself with actors who are better than him. Brave, bhai!

At this point, it’s probably in order to write about the plot and what the film’s actually about. Well, to be honest, it’s about Salman Khan not taking his shirt off for a change. It’s about Jacqueline Fernandez being a better Katrina Kaif than Katrina Kaif. It’s also about Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who is not weighed down by his arthouse baggage, and emerges as Kick’s secret weapon. Above all, the film is about Poland not being the United Kingdom, except when there’s a car chase. During all this, Salman wins at everything.

This is not a must-watch, but a watch-it-if-you-must.

This review was originally published in Newsline’s September 2014 issue under the headline, “A Kick Apart?”

Schayan Riaz is a film critic based in Germany