This is a film review of a movie called “bell bottom”, which I saw a few nights ago at a local theater. It was a spy thriller with a plot that had a lot of holes in it. The plot was a little hard to follow because the plot was a clever plot. The plot’s clever plot was a little hard to follow because the plot was a plot that was cleverly hidden from the plot’s audience. The plot was a plot that was cleverly hidden from its plot’s audience because the plot was a plot that was cleverly hidden from the plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s plot’s
Rob Base is a retired spy who is the main character of the first novel, “Bell Bottom”, written by Scott Marius. In the book, Rob Base has been recalled from a stint in Russia and is living a quiet life in the suburbs of Washington D.C. He tries to lead a normal life but can’t help being drawn to the intrigue of his former life.
The film, Bell Bottom, is a very entertaining and engaging spy-type thriller. To be honest, I did not expect much from this film since it is shot in a rather cheap and amateurish style, but what I got surprised me. Sure, the story isn’t anything spectacular, but the movie is more than that. At times, the movie reminded me of the old James Bond movies (the ones that were produced in the 60s and 70s), which is a good thing since it has some action sequences and some clever and cleverly hidden details.
Three things are guaranteed in the life of an Indian cinephile: death, taxes, and a ‘patriotic’ film during Independence Day week – the first two may be postponed, if not avoided, but the third is unavoidable. Bell Bottom, starring Akshay Kumar, is a similar foregone conclusion – it’s his sixth such release in the previous six years. It, too, is “inspired by actual events,” as are Shershaah and Bhuj. It, too, excavates the last decade and praises a national security agency: the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW).
The spy thriller, set in 1984, revolves around the hijacking of an Indian plane carrying 210 passengers. Over the last few years, improved relations between India and Pakistan and a series of hijackings of Indian flights have resulted in the release of many terrorists, according to R&AW chief N.F. Suntook’s (Adil Hussain’s) voiceover, due to “negotiations” — the film’s slur, obsession, and mantra. The Indian ministers are eager to reach an agreement this time, but R&AW is adamant that it will not since it has a new ace in the pack: analyst Anshul Malhotra (Kumar), code-named “Bell Bottom” — someone with a personal stake in the mission.
The film opens with the 1984 hijacking before cutting to a five-year flashback in Delhi, where we meet Anshul’s wife Radhika (Vaani Kapoor) and mother Raavi (Dolly Ahluwalia). I convinced myself that these were bad signs, that one of them would die soon. In this (overlong) section, we discover more about the hero, which helps to balance out the intensity of the first several minutes: He is a national chess player, a singer, a French teacher, and an IAS candidate.
Soon after, we hear a song that begins as a wedding song but soon devolves into a cliched love ballad. Of course, it doesn’t make any sense. Raavi is forced to go to London, while Radhika is forced to travel to Srinagar (it’s coming; it’s coming). Intermittent visions of strange people smiling at the airport (yeah, they’re terrorists, the voice in my head wouldn’t let up). Back on the plane, their watches begin to beep at precisely the same time, signaling that the plane has been hijacked.
Anshul’s mother has died, which is a sad (but quite anticipated) narrative twist. (His wife isn’t — this isn’t an Ajay Devgn movie.) The R&AW guys then kidnap him and force him to become an agent. There’s no reason why he’s qualified for the position, and another connected surprise near the conclusion doesn’t add together either. Following the formal training, Bell Bottom cuts to London in 1983, when R&AW agents attempt to arrest the 1979 hijackers.
Ranjit Tewari, the film’s director, doesn’t want to spend time on frills like believable narrative transitions and simmering suspense, so he has Anshul track down a criminal: so far, so typical.
Bell Bottom, like other plays in its genre, loves to repeat itself. The video often reminds us that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is trying to undermine the country’s security, that Pakistan is betraying India via “dosti ka dikhawa,” and that the era of “negotiations” has passed us by. There is also repetition at the character level. In a flashback to 1979, Indian cabinet members and Prime Minister Morarji Desai transform into pathetic softies, focused on – what else? – “negotiations,” giving General Zia-ul-Haq excessive leeway.
All of these implications are highly Uri-like: India must find courage. Kumar even uses a phrase from an election campaign: “Abki baar, unki haar.” And, while the film does not disparage the then-prime leader, Indira Gandhi, it is astute enough to take sides. When the ISI is outmaneuvered later in the movie, its leader remarks, “Shaatir woh nahin, R&AW hai” (Gandhi isn’t clever; R&AW is).
I need to establish the tone for the remainder of the review before I go any farther. My professional career as a cinema critic has coincided with the 2014 Modi sarkar election (and the rise of nationalist films). I’ve shouted and screamed, been shocked and frightened, but I have to admit that Bollywood nationalists (especially Tanhaji and Bhuj) have finally broken me, as I discovered while seeing Bell Bottom.
Because there have been so many nationalist films released in the last seven years — putting the “pro” in “propaganda” – the present prevalent attitude is weariness and indifference rather than anger or irritation. Is there any predictability in the plot? Turn it up (as long as it doesn’t become too loud). Is traditional nationalism still relevant? It’s not a big issue (and it’s certainly not Islamophobic).
Bell Bottom wasn’t shrill or disgusting about its Desh bhakti. I felt relieved. When it wasn’t drowning in its bloodlust – the RA&W agents don’t murder hijackers – I wanted to yell, “Progressive, sir, very progressive!” I tried to get up and cheer Kumar when he stated, “I don’t blame the Pakistani population, but there are some sections…” Maybe it’s my cynicism, perhaps it’s my age, maybe it’s (cinematic) Stockholm Syndrome, or perhaps it’s all of the above, but I’m humbled and defeated.
So, in the second half, Bell Bottom wasn’t all that awful. The film does not follow the formula of an indestructible patriot, the nation’s intrinsic grandeur, or Pakistan’s never-ending vileness – and while it does include some of these elements, the clamor is not deafening. We even have a few plot twists: the RA&W operatives face various barriers; specific plans fail to materialize; and the ultimate triumph, while convenient, appears to be earned. Please make no mistake. It is still poor, but I did find a silver lining: Bell Bottom is a Bhuj who attended a grooming school.
SCORE: 6 OUT OF 10
This article broadly covered the following related topics:
- good spy movies
- best spy novels
- best cia movies
- spy movies on netflix
- spy thriller movies list