Tom Cruise’s “Knight and Day” meets Bollywood

“Bang Bang!,” directed by Siddharth Anand is a Bollywood movie starring internationally wanted spy Rajveer Nanda (Hrithik Roshan) that meets a dreamy country bank teller Harleen Sahni (Katrina Kaif) that run away from law enforcement.

Bollywood frequently follows the cookie cutter formula of the Byronic hero but with an interesting mix of Michael Jackson dance moves. Followers of Hinduism live their lives according to the Ashram system, where a lifespan is divided into four consecutive periods with their own respective goals. Grihastha, the second stage of life from around 24 to 48 years of age, features the prime of the Hindu lifestyle. Men during Grihastha shoulder the burdens of the rest of society and carry out their duties to their families; most notably reproduction.

Bollywood entered the film industry in the early 1900s and incorporated the Grihastha period as a cause for celebration. Bollywood’s industry boomed and now produces at least 1,000 films annually compared to Hollywood’s 500.

While the scenery sometimes looked extremely cheap in quality, the editing techniques were rather sophisticated. Many cuts paid attention to motion and transitions were well thought out. Lighting was also very impressive, facial contrasts and scenery were well portrayed such as selectively illuminating silhouettes for dramatic effect.

What stunned me while walking into the movie were the words “Based on the motion picture ‘Knight and Day.’” So while watching “Bang Bang!” I always had the film’s predecessor with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in mind for comparison.

Many iconic scenes in “Knight and Day” were imitated in the movie such as the restaurant scene where the love interest’s former potential spouse gets shot and the car chase where the love interest is taken to a “safe” place.

The comparisons were exaggerated and sometimes intentionally campy and even broke the fourth wall on occasion. When Harleen sat around moping about her lonely life and eating ice cream, an ad for advertises the site and tells Harleem to stop moping and eating ice cream. When Harleem and Rajveer go to Prague, she feels astounded and says how it’s just like an action movie.
It was interesting to notice the dramatic expenses in production quality mixed with really cheap alternatives. Various sets seemed gloriously fake and any attention to background scenery showed a large contrast on how the budget was spent.

However, the music videos seemed to have all the money they could possibly need. Shooting flames and smoke are summoned from nowhere along with hundreds of backup dancers to join the festivities. Raveer and Harleen also changed clothing every ten seconds in the song. There also seems to be some trope I never noticed before with dancing on bridges. It may be culturally symbolic but there were at least eight bridges to dance on for the duration of the movie. The blatant suggestive camera shots showed Rajveer muscular wherever humanly possible. Compared to Tom Cruise, Hrithik Roshan was probably three times larger in body mass.

The stunts were downright ridiculous. A parkour scene finished off with the main character jumping off of a five story building. On an island scene, Rajveer did dolphin jumps through the sea on a water jet pack in the form of a board. Despit being soaked in water he liberally applied gunshots to the enemy with his handguns. The final action scenes ended up being a series of stunts. After single handedly blowing up a castle in the desert, Rajzeer escapes with Harleem on a dirtbike while being pursued by two vehicles. They shoot them down with some pistols. Then after more pursuers show up, they backflip over some cars and end up being caught by the main villain at the bridge. The main villain captures Harleen and Rajzeer ends up battling a chain fighter in order to catch up to them. After running dramatically on foot, Rajzeer notices a Formula 1 racecar conveniently occuring right next to him and hijacks one of the race cars. After doing pointless handbrake turns to modern trance music, Rajzeer fails to catch up to Harleen by car and must stop the main villain from escaping by plane. Rajveer finds a harpoon at the end of a dock and manages to hook onto the plane with an impossible shot. Then he was dragged along the water much like the James Bond film “Thunderball” except he was casually waterskiing and disabling the airplane engines with his pistol. The amount of ammunition contained in a single magazine was probably close to a hundred rounds but with all the crazy stunts he was probably good at reloading too. Inside the plane, Rajveer drags the final boss into a flaming cockpit.

It was also interesting to see the modernization of Bollywood cinema in “Bang Bang!” compared to older films. Chase scenes were complemented with trance music and heist scenes were met with dubstep. Everything seemed commercialized while still maintaining family values.

The fictional names were hilarious. Rajveer meets Harleen by accident when she sets up a date through For a mission to confront the antagonist, the Rajveer and Harleen go to Bel Air, Prague. A fake shop for handbags was labeled Bag’s Life.

The product placement was also shameless and amusing. The antagonist was eating Pizza Hut in his cell and later in the movie, Rajveer and Haleen have dinner at a Pizza Hut complemented with a cold Mountain Dew.

With crazy action scenes including water jet packs, and Formula 1 racecars, for a two hour Bollywood movie it was surprisingly short. The fast shots and flashy scenery seemed to fit the short attention span of modern society. I was satisfied with the theoretical billions of dollars in CGI property damage, enjoyed a slew of James Bond references and moments of comedic relief and it was definitely worth my $10 ticket in a fancy theatre.