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‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’ review: Big little problems

Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff team up, but Ali Abbas Zafar's action film is a bust

A stilll from ‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan'
A stilll from ‘Bade Miyan Chote Miyan'

In 1998, David Dhawan directed Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda in the tepid comedy Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. Besides the title, the 2024 film of the same name has only one other thing in common with its precursor—the producer. Clips of the 1998 film are playing in a terrorist hangout in Afghanistan when our modern day Bade (Akshay Kumar) and Chote (Tiger Shroff) ride in to save the day, guns and grenades blazing.

Bade or Feroz, also known as Freddy, is a highly trained and much revered army officer. Chote or Rakesh, also known as Rocky, is equally adept. In fact, the high command’s dependence on Freddy and Rocky makes it appear as if the Indian Army has no other officers or soldiers of merit.

There’s more, there are even clones of these two die-hard patriots and some mention about artificial intelligence. But as the slight screenplay of this 158-minute tedium often does, let’s dial back a bit.

A masked psychopath (Prithviraj) with unruly hair and a punk villain leather coat has captured a weapon most crucial to India’s defences. The only men who can help retrieve it, says Colonel Azad (Ronit Roy), are court martial-led soldiers Freddy and Rocky, because “to catch a psychopath you need two even bigger psychos”. Agent Misha (Manushi Chhillar) is sent to bring them back on active duty.

The best line of the film comes from Rocky when, by way of introduction he says, ‘Our egos are bigger than our talents’. Marks for self-deprecating humour, delivered with oblivious earnestness by Shroff. Kumar plays the older, greying officer who tolerates his younger colleague’s bad jokes. There was potential for some banter and humour between these two action heroes of different vintages, but director Ali Abbas Zafar is far more focussed on the relentless volley of action set pieces. Chest-thumping action movies with a layer of jingoism have become the writer-director's calling card.

So now Rocky, Freddy, Misha, under the orders of Azad, are trailing a masked madman with his finger on the trigger of a weapon that threatens to destabilise the entire region in three days. Masked man also has his own army, consisting of humans and metahumans.

The events jump between an Indian army base, a secret intelligence unit, underground tunnels in London, Afghanistan, Shanghai and the Isle of Man. Like the running time of the movie, the three days stretch on interminably. Even a 10-second countdown to destruction feels like 10 minutes.

Derivative of many Hollywood films, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan is designed like a long video game with incessant gunfire, explosions, a huge body count, and no particular point. Alongside the two heroes, Chhillar throws a punch or two and often fires a gun. Alaya F turns up as Pammi, a manic pixie techie geek with an iPad who is instrumental in saving the day. This is still better than Sonakshi Sinha, who spends most of her scenes either looking shocked and hurt or passed out in a chair, captured by the masked maniac. 

If only the producers had spent a quarter of their action and explosions budget on a script and devoted a percentage more thought to giving the female characters more agency. In one scene, Bade and Chote are tied to the gallows flanked by captive women helplessly crouched at their feet. This summarises the testosterone-fuelled machismo of a movie that the dialogue writers themselves may have described best when, in a moment meriting some urgency, Pammi snaps at Rocky saying, “Sometimes use your brain instead of your biceps.”





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