I like the concept of time travel – books, tv shows, movies, everything. Time travel is endlessly fascinating no matter how little sense it makes. That is, as long as the one telling the story is fully aware that time travel is the theme. But what happens when a filmmaker hasn’t realised this is 2018 and is still making movies like he was stuck in the ‘80s? Bhaskar Oru Rascal, that’s what.
Siddique’s remake of the unexpected Malayalam hit Bhaskar The Rascal (with Mammootty and Nayanthara) opened yesterday. Playing the lead roles in the Tamil are Arvind Swami and Amala Paul, who play single parents – Bhaskar is a widower with a son and Anu is an unwed mum with a daughter. The two children are great friends but also want to play matchmaker for their parents. And largely this is all the movie is about. There was nothing cute about below-10 year-olds playing cupid between their parents in the 80s’ movies and there’s absolutely nothing cute about it now either.
Bhaskar is a man-child, a son of a sophisticated, educated and wealthy man. He has what I, and no one else seems to see, as an alcohol problem, temper issues, zero respect for children or authority and no friends. But most mystifyingly, as the son of an educated man, he seems to show no signs of education, breeding or refinement of his own. Bhaskar also prefers to speak with his hands way more than using his words. Baby alert. Why wouldn’t any woman fall for him, hmmm? Anu, on the other hand, is an unwed, single mother, who we later discover has parents living in Canada. The only way to explain the expensive house she lives in and the other luxuries she can afford, then, has to be her parents’ support because no where in the movie do we learn what she does, how she makes a living and generally what her struggles as a single mum are. I can’t help compare it to the Malayalam where Nayanthara plays an entrepreneur who owns a home-made chocolate business.
Akaash, played by Master Raghavan, and Shivani, portrayed by Baby Nainika, are their children and the movie unfurls itself as a series of attempts by the kids to get their parents together. Justifiably, Anu does not at all see Bhaskar as ideal for her. Bhaskar, on the other hand, has the perpetual gormless look of a person who doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. If they were looking for Swami to wear the wounded, little-boy-lost look, they didn’t quite succeed. All he manages to look is either sleepy or very inebriated. Within this cloyingly sweet, and perhaps light little fun, is a tiny whirlpool gathering steam – a subplot set in Kolkata that involves characters played by Malayalam actor Siddique, and a completely randomly-cast Aftab Shivdasani (who, in the start credits, shows up as “introducing.” Last I checked, he was pushing 40).
I could go into the details of how Bhaskar beats up rowdies in his son’s school in front of little kids; or the complete irrationality of the kids calling the other’s parent by the title of the parent they miss. (Akaash calls Anu amma, and Shivani calls Bhaskar appa). But the one thing that stands out to me is the amazing and incredibly irritating precocity of both the kids – from liberally using their mobile phones to talking about things that no adults in their right mind would let their kids be exposed, the character of the kids is the worst written part of the film. Ironically enough, the best performances, however, come from the two kids Raghavan and Nainika.
I’d leave this review incomplete if I didn’t touch on the supporting cast who provided comic relief: Soori, Robo Shankar and Ramesh Kanna do an adequate job with the sub-par comedy scripts they’ve been given. The music, by Amresh Ganesh, is entirely forgettable. The possible saving grace of the film, however, and I haven’t decided this yet, is to see Arvind Swami looking fit, his wig looking entirely natural and his willingness to take on a role unlike anything else he’s done before. Personally, that’s not a big plus for me because his decision to play a testosterone-driven, borderline disrespectful male takes me back to all the nauseatingly masculine, macho roles Mammootty, Jayaram, Mohanlal and Suresh Gopi played in the 90s.
Because it’s 2018 and as a woman, I wouldn’t remotely consider spending my life with a man who went around beating people up and throwing phones in a fit of rage.
The Bhaskar Oru Rascal review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.