Bell Bottom Movie Review: A vintage story told in modern style

Bell Bottom Movie Review: As a throwback to the turbulent 1980s when India was wracked by Khalistani and secessionist violence with active support from Pakistan, ‘Bell Bottom’ is an action thriller which stays true to the cause. Director Ranjit M Tewari, who came up with the highly watchable ‘Lucknow Central’ in 2017 helms this film featuring Akshay Kumar as the ‘Bell Bottom’ and Vaani Kapoor plays his charming consort, raising the level of onscreen performance a few notches higher than normal. The long wait for this film to be featured only on the big screen prior to its re-release on OTT platforms is a gamble that seems to have paid off handsomely, as it is an entertaining option for the action-starved Hindi film patrons.

Those years were when plane hijacking was normal for the trouble-mongers who succeeded in getting their unreasonable demands met by the Indian government, adding more to the vortex of violence engulfing the region. Indian Airlines, it is said was hijacked 16 times from 1971 to 1999. This film, inspired by one such true event, focuses on a case – the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 421 which moved across airports in India and Pakistan before landing in Dubai for the final round of action and negotiation.

Involving principal characters in the drama from the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (excellent performance by Lara Dutta with an altered look and make-up) , her cabinet, the ultra-secret agencies like RAW and IB, the just over two hours film is a gripping one. Action takes off within the first few minutes when the hero is called by the apex team to suggest ways to defuse the crisis and is granted permission reluctantly to act on it.

Keeping the jingoistic patriotism narrative at a low key and showcasing the ultra- conservative approach of the then central government, the film does not veer away from the polished and nuanced moves adopted by Akshay Kumar, who looks the vintage hero of the 1980s and aces it. Adil Hussain as his boss does great justice to his role, asserting himself and the importance of his agency in handling delicate and diabolic assignments like these.

The Pakistani establishment’s triumphalist attitude and their over-confidence in dealing with a shaky Indian government, the calculated moves of the chess player-turned-undercover agent Bell Bottom make this venture a sure winner. The emotional angle to his single-minded pursuit of the enemy also is weaved in well and Kumar plays the doting son to his happy-go-lucky mother (Dolly Ahluwalia) very well. The cloak and dagger lives of spies and zealots has a surprise twist at the end too. In all, a worthwhile watch.

Written by K Naresh Kumar