Expectations were high as I walked into the theatre to catch ‘Race 2’. My thoughts: if you have a good-looking bunch like Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham and Deepika Padukone filling the screen, what could possibly go wrong? Plenty, apparently. Here’s a minute-by-minute breakdown of the experience. Enjoy the ride...
11.30pm: Caramelised popcorn: check; orange slushy: check; nachos: check; diet: what’s that?
11:40pm: Trailers of ‘Vishwaroopam’, Kamal Haasan’s controversial spy thriller which is still under UAE review, shown. We wonder if it’s a sign that we might be able to watch it on the big screens here.
11.50pm: After sitting through a string of trailers for animated films, ‘Race 2’ opens. The first scene is all about a swanky yellow convertible hurtling at top speed. A scorpion crosses its path. Is that a warning that danger lies ahead? Possibly, since directors Abbas-Mustan are as subtle as a clobbering crab.
Midnight: Ten minutes down and we are treated to our first car explosion. To add to the dramatic nature, a token mean-looking Caucasian guy has been hired as the henchman to do the dirty job. Something tells me that hiring a non-Indian was an orchestrated move by the director-duo to dial up the slick factor. They succeed.
12.05am: Abbas-Mastan don’t believe in wasting time. We are introduced to John Abraham (underground street fighter turned billionaire called Armaan Malik). Like all good old Bollywood films, he steps off his private helicopter in a well-tailored suit. We are told he has zero tolerance to men who deceive him. In case we didn’t get the point, his evil streak is illustrated with John killing one of his thieving employees by pushing him off a building. Beefcake John is studiously expressionless. Thank god, he’s good looking. Deepika doesn’t disappoint. She steps off another helicopter (didn’t I tell you that they are seriously rich) in a white gown that’s slit to her hip. We are thinking those slits had something to do with Deepika’s graceful entry into the frame. She’s described as Malik’s half-sister Elena. “His pillar can become a killer” — warns a voice in the background.
12:15am: Apparently, Elena is a tough nut to crack in business meetings. She’s a mean negotiator and if you stand in her way, she will blow your brains out. Wait, the good part is yet to come. She will first use her sexuality to lure her opposition into a nightclub and then while they are getting hot and heavy on the dance floor, she will knock him dead. Plus, she does all of this with her hair billowing behind her. Kudos to Abbas-Mastan and Deepika’s hair stylist for creating such a senseless yet stylish scene. The feminist in you might have seizures at such blatant sexually-laced aggression at the workplace, but in ‘Race 2’, there’s clearly no place for such sentiments. Guess who got inspired by John’s act in ‘Dostana’? Saif Ali Khan, that’s who. Instead of yellow trunks that John wore, Saif steps out of the sea in low-waist jeans. On regular days, he’s a rich businessman who only understands the language of billion-plus euros but on other days, you will find him lounging by the beach semi-naked. The 42-year-old age-defying star will put a 20-something stud to shame.
12:45am: The next half hour is all about Saif and John forging a friendship. Saif makes a play at John’s sister Elena and his girlfriend Omisha (where do they get these names?). His pick-up line: “When you are not with Armaan, where do you live?” In response, Jacqueline Fernandez, clad in skimpy clothes, gives a smouldering look. Before an hour is up, there’s even a ‘Mask Of Zorro’ fencing sequence in the film. Such tacky scenes make you wonder where you have landed.
1.07 am: Saif gives a crash course on cheesy one-lines such as “revenge is a dessert best served cold”. Plus when he is not seducing women, he throws in the plan about stealing the Shroud of Turin, a prized cloth housed in a European museum. Is it me or was the original ‘Race’ a lot better than its sequel?
2am: A few raunchy dance sequences and kisses later, Saif manages to execute the robbery. There’s a lot of conversion of billions of euros to crores. We suspect those conversions are an integral part of the script to drive home the point of how high the stakes are. Currently, I will give away a billion dollars if I could magically land in bed.
2.30 am: Lesson learnt: All rich boys drive Audis in ‘Race 2’ and they can dance at the drop of a hat. The climax — in which a car slides off an aeroplane and glides off the air as a parachute opens on all four sides — is the corniest scene I have ever seen in a long time.
3am: The good-looking bunch are done with deceiving each other. They look relieved. They are not alone. We were perched on our seats fantasising about racing back home. But we survived the ride and lived to tell the tale.
*’Race 2’ is currently showing in the UAE.