Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
The oddest thing about "Besharam," in a litany of incredibly perplexing elements, is how cheap and small it seems. One of the first scenes in the film sees the sinister gangster villain (Javed Jaffrey) and henchmen being pulled over by the police, in a stolen car with a very large bag of money in the trunk. One of the henchmen produces a rocket launcher, as one does, and blows up a cop car. This is nothing out of the ordinary—what are rocket launchers for if not blowing up cop cars in the first reel?—but the resultant explosion is a dismayingly cheap-looking, seemingly computer-generated fireball.
It would be nice if this were an aberration. It's not always possible to get everything exactly right when making a movie. But it is possible to get at least one or two things right, and "Besharam" can barely meet that threshold.
To be perfectly clear, the problem is not Ranbir Kapoor, who gives a committed lead performance as Babli, a car thief. The character is built up in typical "He's the best there is!" action movie terms before his proper introduction, whereupon he's revealed as a bumbler who very nearly gets caught during the film's first theft, then wrecks the vehicle and has to get a new, non-destroyed one to appease Jaffrey's gangster. Unfortunately, this is a pattern throughout "Besharam," a film that keeps promising things it can't or won't deliver.
The title translates to "shameless," and Babli is called "shameless" by nearly everyone he encounters, including bumbling, corrupt cops Chubul Chautala (Rishi Kapoor) and Bulbul Chautala (Neetu Kapoor), and the presumptive love interest Tara (Pallavi Sharda, with whom the hero has as little romantic chemistry as has ever been seen in a film). Despite the endless repetition of the word, there isn't a whole lot of actual shamelessness on display. Babli steals cars for a living and donates all the proceeds to the orphanage where he grew up and still lives, fairly shamelessly, but the moment he lays eyes on Tara, he suddenly is overcome with a desire to reform. It could be that the movie itself is what's shameless, in its substitution of urination and defecation for actual jokes, and references to other movies and movie stars in the place of an actual movie.