Bell Bottom

wogma rating: Add to that never-watched 'To Watch' list (?)

quick review:

Might have been an interesting story, were the narration not marred by overt nationalism. We will never know. (Available on Amazon Prime Video)

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Director: Ranjit Tiwari
Running time: 120 minutes
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Bell Bottom starts like the many other Akshay Kumar films. Story-wise, narration-wise, cinematically. The rest of the film follows a formula, too, of a country-vs-country thriller. It is becoming a genre in itself, isn’t it? I can say that for at least Hindi films. A new genre should have excited me, but even the first film in this genre would have exasperated me. And this one is no different.

A new genre should have excited me, but even the first film in this genre would have exasperated me. And this one is no different.

The running theme of this genre is some enemy is evil. They belong to a bad, bad country, our neighbour. That itself is supposedly enough to make us feel good. For those of us who don’t like it, though, this time, we have a caveat line inserted. Our hero says he has no objections to its citizens. As if he wants them to be grateful for his consideration and generosity.

Other than this overarching theme, the entire initial set-up is to introduce his character with all aplomb. How many movies has Akshay Kumar’s character been introduced as the one and only one who can save the situation? Yes, many films do that. But he has stepped into that trope a tiresome number of times. Of course, there is a lot of eye-roll-worthy, slow-motion drama around his first scene. A slight tweak might be that he is doing it to music typical of Hindi films from the 70s-80s.

For the sake of completeness, I must add that he performs like he does in any of these other films. So, if you like those, you will like this one. If you don’t, there is nothing that will make you feel better or worse about it. Me? I am indifferent. Or am I? Because I did sense a hint of schadenfreude when his character is deemed physically unfit. By the way, is it just me, or is Akshay Kumar uncomfortable with English, especially with long sentences? If so, why have him say it? It is unnecessarily awkward.

Meanwhile, other characters are merely satellites revolving around this all-important star, either creating problems for him or following his orders. What choice do the actors playing them have then, but to place Akshay Kumar at the centre? Be it Lara Dutta or Adil Hussain, or Vaani Kapoor. Does it not hurt anyone in the film’s crew that Kapoor’s pairing with Kumar doesn’t even pass the divide by 2, add 7 rule of dating. Anyhow, the only actor who seems to be putting in more than mechanical effort is Zain Khan Durrani. Hardly enough to make you want to watch an entire film.

Unless a tiny, cute mother-in-law daughter-in-law relationship can lure you in. It is adorable. At the same time, slightly out-of-place, too, because that delight is missing in the rest of the film. Also, it is countered by a mother who seems to want her kids to compete for her love. How toxic is that.

Yes, the story is interesting, especially considering it is based on true-life stories. But put together this way with frothy lines and twists-for-the-sake-of-twists, those too predictable, it makes for a mundane watch. The nauseating nationalism and politicisation don’t help either. There are weird things like other world leaders greet the prime minister with Namaste, but no other Indian greets them in their language. Is that supposed to be a good thing?

The nauseating nationalism and politicisation don’t help either.

Had Bell Bottom avoided this bizarre jingoism, the story itself could have been engaging despite everything else that doesn’t work in the film.

- meeta, a part of the audience

22 reviewers(?) - 13 yays 3 so-so 6 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Russel D'Silva, Bollywood Life : ...Some issues with the climax, camerawork and 3D aside, Bell Bottom is underlines quality in every frame on the back of razor-sharp direction, to-the-point writing, crisp editing, an adrenaline-pumping background score, some stunning twists, seeti-maar dialogues, and one of Akshay Kumar's career-defining roles. I'm going with 4 out of 5 stars.... full review

Thumbs up, by Deepa Gahlot, Deepa Gahlot : of the post-interval portion is enjoyable, however, and Akshay Kumar looks and acts like he could—with a bigger budget and smaller agenda—play a suave Bond-like character. In fact, there is an unexpected and quite delightful twist at the very end, that hints at a franchise. Hope they go for it!... full review

Thumbs up, by Ritika Handoo, DNA : ...Overall, a stylish Bellbottom embarks on an adrenaline-pumping ride, giving ample high moments to viewers for staying hooked, booked and cooked. Watch Bellbottom and we bet you will get your hands on that retro pair of flare out from your closet, the very next moment!... full review

Thumbs up, by Vedanshi Pathak, Filmfare : ...Akshay Kumar delivers a strong performance in the film. He comes across as a dedicated RAW agent in love with his country and is shown as someone willing to put his life on the line for his mission. He’s got several punch dialogue and stylised action aplenty. His fans will have a field day whistling and clapping.... full review

Thumbs up, : ...Bell Bottom is a complete dose of entertainment for the audience and if you are fully vaccinated, this could be a well deserved entertaining outing in the cinemas, ofcourse adhering to all safety norms & precautions.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vaishali Jain, India TV : ...To sum it up, Bell Bottom has a brazen and justified confidence in its narrative that you cannot help but be charmed about. It is worth a chance in the cinema hall but don't forget to take safety precautions... full review

Thumbs up, by R.M. VIJAYAKAR, India West : ...Sore points and flipside: YES, the sorry music and lyrics in the songs—yet again. Neither for the soul nor the sole, the songs are an avoidable “earsore” to coin a term. One song, “Marjaawan,” even has lyrics that go, “Je Tu Meri Na Hoi, To Main Mar Jaanga” (If you do not become mine, I will die) when they are already married! And this atrocity and at least one more song are entirely in Punjabi.... full review

Thumbs up, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...‘BellBottom’ works on its stated metrics of see, no complexities, everything easy. Fun and games and rat-a-tat action, and no hostages lost, just as they didn’t in real life after the rescue operation was pulled off successfully. We get the flag, but no strident flag waving. We get Bad Pakistani Terrorists who brainwash Hapless Indians, but no loud jingoism. Bad guys lose. Good guys win. Jai Hind.... full review

Thumbs up, by Bhavana Sharma, Pinkvilla : ...Director has thought well of the script, and how he wants to project every single scene and situation. Be it London or Dubai, or any other city shown in the film, Rajiv Ravi's cinematography captures the beauty of every single city. Music adds soul and thrill to this film which a must-watch this weekend.... full review

Thumbs up, by Jogerder Tuteja, Rediff : ...Bell Bottom satiates the hunger of watching a film on the big screen. It is quite entertaining and makes one look forward to the sequel as well which is pretty much on the cards.... full review

Thumbs up, Sify Movies : ...The songs are few but well-placed. The ones that stood out were the gurudwara song 'Khair Mangdi' and the title track 'Dhoom Taraa', which just stays with you much after you leave the theatre.... full review

Thumbs up, by Anita Britto, Spotboye : ...The unexpected twists and turns, amazing screenplay, dhamakedar background music is what makes this Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutta, Vaani Kapoor starrer is a must-watch film of this year.... full review

Thumbs up, by SHIKHA DESAI, Times of India : ...Overall, the film has its flaws, but it doesn't fail to entertain. ‘Bell Bottom’ lives up to the charm of a Bollywood, big-scale commercial film that deserved to be released on the big screen. And, of course, the fact that this film marks the reopening of theatres after months of shutdown due to the second wave of the pandemic, moviegoers can treat themselves to a grand cinema experience with this one.... full review

So-So, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...Arrey Bhai Saab, that’s what we are all here for. To reiterate that terrorism must be non-negotiable.That Akshay Kumar must emerge as a man who means business. And that’s non-negotiable.... full review

So-So, by Sachin Mehrotra, Film Companion : ...In the end, somewhere buried within Bell Bottom are the building blocks of a great thriller. It’s just shrouded in simplistic storytelling and ‘hijacked’ by the pressures of the big Hindi movie formula.... full review

Thumbs down, by Tatsam Mukherjee, FirstPost : ...Bell Bottom might try to fool you with its sleekness, but it is equally as harebrained as any of Kumar’s films in the past five years. And it is apparent in the smugness of the ‘twist’ in the last scene of the film. Another one of those gotcha! moments, where Vaani Kapoor’s limited presence is "justified." Another ‘mirage’ of a masterstroke, while the truth is they are simply clueless about how to make use of her acting chops outside of the two music videos they get her to star in.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, Free Press Journal : ...The one star I have credited the film with is for its pulsating background score. Just download the ringtones. The rest of Bell Bottom is bottom of the barrel stuff.... full review

Thumbs down, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Bell Bottom Review: Focus Is On Akshay Kumar Playing Akshay Kumar - The Film Suffers In The Bargain Bell Bottom Review: A still from the film. (Image courtesy: YouTube ) 17 Cast: Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutta, Huma Qureshi, Vaani Kapoor, Adil Hussain, Thalaivasal Vijay, Abhijit Lahiri Director: Ranjit M Tewari Rating: 2 stars (out of 5) Starring Akshay Kumar as a 1980s Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) agent who leads a covert operation to rescue 210 passengers held hostage on an Indian Airlines plane hijacked by Pakistan-sponsored desperados, Bell Bottom marks Hindi cinema's return to the big screen after a protracted lull necessitated by the second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. It isn't, however, the big-bang affair one had expected. The lead actor lends undeniable star power to the film, playing a flamboyant 30-something spy who knows the minds of hijackers like the back of his hand. That is all there is to Bell Bottom. Everything else, including the way the principal character is fleshed out, is pretty pedestrian. The film's hero is Anshul Malhotra, a secret agent codenamed Bell Bottom and married to an MTNL employee (Vaani Kapoor) who hovers unobtrusively in the background like a good, dutiful, madly in love wife. Every time the secret agent returns home, the lady is at the door to receive him with hugs and pecks on the cheek. The man's boss Santook (Adil Hussain), too, trusts him with his life. When Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) masterminds a hijacking with the intention of bargaining for the release of a few Khalistani extremists lodged in Indian jails, he recommends him to Mrs. Indira Gandhi (Lara Dutta hidden behind layers of prosthetics) and asserts that he has the chops to solve the hostage crisis. The foreign affairs minister (Thalaivasal Vijay), the civil aviation minister (Abhijit Lahiri) and the Intelligence Bureau chief are openly sceptical about the spy who has come in from the cold with a set of ideas that are at variance with theirs. James Bond is indeed invoked in one throwaway line that the hero spouts. Do not let that send your expectations soaring - Bell Bottom has neither a top-draw villain nor an enigmatic, sultry femme fatale to liven up the proceedings. To be fair, there is an element of intrigue surrounding the characters of Agent Bell Bottom's spouse and the RAW point person in Dubai (played by Huma Qureshi), but it is sprung upon the audience far too late in the film for it to make a meaningful difference. No matter how crusty our intrepid secret agent is, he is a mamma's boy who sheds copious tears when his mother leaves for London to visit her elder son. Tough guys do cry. Unfortunately, his mom (Dolly Ahluwalia), the loquacious object of his filial devotion, gets short shrift. Scripted by Aseem Arrora and Parveez Sheikh, Bell Bottom dangles midair between an action-packed hostage rescue thriller and an insipid star vehicle designed in a manner that allows the lead actor to completely crush the potential of the narrative material. The rescue mission, which sees its share of ups and downs, quite literally kicks up a storm in the desert but the film fizzles out well before it has run its course because director Ranjit M. Tewari's approach is way too leaden-footed for an actioner inspired by true events. The film has a great deal of action all right, but it is terribly low on emotions. This despite the fact that the protagonist is avowedly "personally invested" in the case. He goes out on a limb for mother and motherland (armed primarily with poker-faced pomposity) to teach the hijackers a lesson.... full review

Thumbs down, by ARNAB BANERJEE, Outlook India : ...The national sentiment being tilted towards the polarising debate on nationalism and patriotism, director Tewary would have no reason for such a subject to sag, and so, the fast pace of the film keeps you glued to the screen. Now, that truly is one great quality about the film; who cares for factual inaccuracies?... full review

Thumbs down, : ...Given the current polarising debate on nationalism, the movie’s producers must be congratulating themselves for thinking that they have a winner on their hands. They would have had one, if there had been some substance to the plot and a more streamlined narrative.... full review

Thumbs down, by Stutee Ghosh, The Quint : ...BellBottom is yet another film in Akshay Kumar's filmography where he yet again plays the perfect Indian on screen who can do no wrong as he saves other deshwasis. It is this template that eventually high jacks everything.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

1 readers - 0 yays 0 so-so 1 nays

Nay! Thumbs Down, by Raj : Had potential, but poorly made

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: A few fight scenes. Hijacking of a plane. Terrorising and torturing of the kidnapped
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: A RAW agent saves a hijacked plane
  • General Look and Feel: Crisp

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

Comments (2)

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Another saga of Akshay Kumar, shot during Covid times, most scenes are interiors, stunts are clearly shot by Akshay's stunt-doubles, and lots of computer graphics.. The idea is to dish out NATIONALISM to prove patriotism and lure masses against a nation / community.. Story and script had potential - but director/actor did an hushed up job.

Agree @Raj. Every time this tendency feels more and more like a waste of a lovely story. :(

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