What is the movie about? :: The movie is set during a time period when India was having rather peaceful moments with Pakistan, even though there were many internal conflicts due to different separatist or terrorist-oriented groups being formed within the country, threatening its unity and integrity. It was also the time period when too many flights were being hijacked, much to the dismay of the Indian Prime Minister of the time, Indira Gandhi (Lara Dutta). The newest flight to be hijacked is Indian Airlines flight IC 691, which left Delhi Airport on a fateful morning with passengers including the women’s Kabbadi team of India. It was also the seventh hijacking in the last five years, and this time, the flight had deviated a long way from its path, and there was no communication. Different departments and organizations keep blaming each other for matters of national security, but the Prime Minister calls for immediate attention. They call up the man who has all the information about hijacking, an analyst, also a RAW agent, Anshul Malhotra (Akshay Kumar), codenamed Bell Bottom.
So, what happens with the events here? :: Anshul also has some personal interest in the cases of hijacking, after being happily married to Radhika Malhotra (Vaani Kapoor), and always trying to clear UPSC with lots of hard work. His mother, Raavie Malhotra (Dolly Ahluwalia) was traveling to Great Britain in an Air India flight which was hijacked and taken to Lahore, Pakistan. Even though there was a negotiation between the two governments and also with the terrorists which led to release of the hostages, but only Raavie came back home dead, and it was reported in television that she died of natural causes. But Anshul never stopped focusing on the hijackings which had happened, as he was chosen as part of RAW. Back to this particular hijacking which seems to lead to a group known as Azaadi Dal, but Agent Bell Bottom is sure that this is the work of ISI, and Pakistan has always wanted something to do with these incidents.
And what else is to follow here with the hijack and the investigations? :: As Agent Bell Bottom has a long past related to all of these investigations, his superior officers are confident about his skills, but when the flight lands at Amritsar airport for a change. But when the airplane takes off from Amritsar and once again lands at Lahore airport, Agent Bell Bottom is once again called for an opinion, and this time, they will have to choose a different path. This time, there has to be that change to make a heavy impact, and also to assure that there will be no more hijackings and releasing of terrorists along with millions of dollars as ransom. But it seems that if negotiations are not allowed in Lahore, the airplane will land somewhere else, in a nation where India will be forced to negotiate. Agent Bell Bottom is prepared for the same though, and he calls of a team for an operation which only Mossad had tried before with some success. But they only have time till the next sunset.
The defence of Bell Bottom :: The movie does make the best use of the time period during which it is set. It is something which seems to be focused on, really well. The makers seem to have done a lot of research and has also done some good work in the recreation. The patriotism at the tip of everything also works well for most of time, and the emotional side works less in comparison. Bell Bottom keeps itself floating because it quickly goes back to where it needs to focus, whenever a deviation is being made. It also quickly leaves the usual Bollywood model to the background, and the same hesitates to make its return, and we end up appreciating the same. The final moments of action are also of fine quality, and even when there was the chance to overdo the same, they never take it – they don’t go that much realistic as Take Off had done, but we know how the paths are different, and therefore we know the choices that the makers have to make. The focus on entertainment makes the fine delivery here.
The claws of flaw :: There are surely those moments which were not needed, and some of the initial moments with emotional touch could have been avoided in a movie like this. The film could have directly gone into action, and the initial moments only seem to try and slow down the action just because a romantic song and a background with a tragedy can be there for long enough to be the motivation for what is to come later. There is also the feeling of watching what we have seen, a number of times. Movies like this one can have its own repetitions, but that has to be kept at the minimum. Some of the plot turns are also rather predictable, and those are not the elements which needed to be added in a film like this which could have used more suspense and bigger twists. In the end, we also see that things are solved rather too easily, instead of having a group of events coming together due to circumstances – films like this one can have bigger brains working behind.
Performers of the soul :: You see Akshay Kumar doing what he has done really well with a few movies in the past which has dealt with similar topics and situations. He had faced similar moments in films like Baby and Airlift, and had done the job with so much of quality related to his work – it is something which suits him really well, and we can always trust him to do this kind of job. He would make a perfect spy in a film like this at any moment. I would prefer to see him in films like these, rather than those comedy movies where he is often placed among some lower quality jokes. Lara Dutta as Indira Gandhi might be the biggest surprise which is in store here, even though we knew it from the trailer, and she blends in really well. Vaani Kapoor’s role is more or less the usual one in which we see the lady leads of Bollywood in a movie like this, and that is done well too. Huma Qureshi also has something to add for shorter period of time.
How it finishes :: Bell Bottom might remind us of some of similar films, but not related to hijacking, but in relation with the covert operations abroad. Most of us were not able to watch this movie in the theatres due to COVID-19 pandemic making the grand return in the form of second wave. This one had released during the Independence Day weekend, and there was also Shershaah on Amazon Prime, which would have been the first preference at that time, because most of the audience have Amazon Prime Video, and not the other options. But as a movie, we can consider Bell Bottom to be the winner of that week as far as Bollywood is considered, even though in the case of Malayalam films, it was Kuruthi rising above every other film. With a touch of patriotism and thrills being always there, it is good to welcome this film to Amazon Prime too, as we are still awaiting the opening of theatres in Kerala, with COVID-19 numbers coming down.
Release date: 19th August 2021 (India), 16th September 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)
Running time: 123 minutes
Directed by: Ranjit M Tewari
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutta, Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Denzil Smith, Adil Hussain, Aniruddh Dave, Thalaivasal Vijay, Dolly Ahluwalia, Mamik Singh, Zain Khan Durrani, Abhijit Lahiri, Sumit Kaul, Sunit Tandon, Jatin Negi, Kavi Raj, Amit Kumar Vashisth, Anjali Dinesh Anand, Ashok Chhabra, Balram Gupta, Girish Sharma, Nitin Khanna, Karim Saidi, Deesh Mariwala, Ahmed Yahya Berrada
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