T-Series and Vertex Motion Pictures Pvt. Ltd.’s Baadshaho (UA) is a heist film set in the 1970s.

Maharani Gitanjali (Ileana D’Cruz) belongs to a royal family of Rajasthan. Her ancestors had not handed over to the government the gold belonging to it, even after the end of privy purses.

In 1975, then prime minister Indira Gandhi declares Emergency. Around the same time, Sanjeev (Priyanshu Chatterjee), an influential person in the Congress government, has been snubbed badly by Gitanjali. To seek revenge, Sanjeev asks army officer Rudra Pratap Singh (Denzil Smith) to confiscate all the gold in Gitanjali’s possession and to put her behind bars. Rudra follows Sanjeev’s instructions and imprisons Gitanjali after forcibly taking possession of the gold rightfully belonging to the government but still held by her.

Rudra asks his trusted lieutenant, Seher Singh (Vidyut Jammwal), to transport the gold to Delhi and for that, he gives Seher Singh a custom-made truck with a powerful safe in it, in which he keeps all the confiscated gold. Even as Rudra and Seher Singh are discussing the plan of action, Gitanjali’s trusted aide, Sanjana (Esha Gupta), is sent by Gitanjali to eavesdrop. Gitanjali wants Sanjana to assist Bhawani Singh (Ajay Devgan) in capturing the gold and returning the same to her.

Gitanjali briefs Bhawani Singh, her trusted lieutenant, about the gold and how she needs it all back to look after the people in her village. The loyal Bhawani Singh promises to retrieve the gold and return the same to Gitanjali with whom he shares a romantic relationship.

Bhawani Singh enlists the support of Daliya (Emraan Hashmi) and Guruji (Sanjay Mishra), besides Sanjana, of course. The four follow the truck in which Seher Singh and his deputy, Somesh (Arjun Dwivedi), are carrying the gold to the destination decided. The group of four, at one point in the journey, takes control of the truck after throwing out Seher Singh and Somesh. The job now is to open the strong safe, something at which Guruji is adept. Meanwhile, Seher Singh, boss Rudra Pratap Singh and other army and police officers are hot on the trail of Bhawani Singh and the truck.

At one point, the army officers seek the help of police officer Durjan (Sharad Kelkar) but Bhawani Singh and his team members outwit him too.

Before Bhawani Singh can return the gold to Gitanjali, he is in for a terrible shock. What is it? How does he deal with the shocking turn of events?

Rajat Aroraa has written a story which doesn’t have even a hint of novelty in it. One has seen such dramas in earlier films and one has also seen heist films in the past. The story, therefore, bores the audience, more so after interval, as it treads the beaten path. Even Rajat Aroraa’s screenplay is predictable and full of clichéd scenes. At several points, the viewer gets the feeling that the screenplay is one of complete convenience. For instance, Bhawani Singh so easily believes Gitanjali when she tells him that she needs the gold to look after the welfare of her subjects. He doesn’t even question her intentions despite knowing that all the royal families were supposed to have returned the gold to the government after the end of the privy purses. Another drawback of the screenplay is that it concentrates so heavily on the heist drama that the audience gets absolutely no time to empathise with any of the characters. This dilutes the impact of the shock that awaits Bhawani Singh. The characters often make such inane conversations with one another that it tests the viewers’ patience. Since the drama is replete with predictable twists and turns, it fails to engage the audience despite there being thrills in the heist and chase sequences. Save for a few entertaining and humorous scenes, there is precious little to lighten the mood of the viewers. The safe-opening sequence is so long-drawn that it appears to be the climax! In comparison, the real climax is half-baked and lacks thrill and exciting drama.

Rajat Aroraa’s dialogues are probably as poor as his story and screenplay. He has relied so heavily on flowery language that it gets on the audience’s nerves within minutes of the film starting. In fact, the flowery language used by Bhawani Singh makes the viewer wonder if he ever speaks normally. Whoever uses such langua­ge to communicate even normal things to others?

Ajay Devgan is average as Bhawani Singh and does what he has done umpteen times in the past. His piercing looks, the swagger in his walk, his dialogue delivery – all are the same as in his earlier films. It’s not as if his performance is bad but, given the routine script, his acting only adds to the routineness. Emraan Hashmi plays to the gallery, thanks to a handful of mass-appealing dialogues he mouths but even his acting is strictly average. Ileana D’Cruz does a fair job as Gitanjali. Vidyut Jammwal gets reasonable scope to showcase his prowess in action and stunts. His acting is okay. Esha Gupta is alright as Sanjana. Sanjay Mishra has his moments of humour and he evokes laughter at places. Sharad Kelkar lends the necessary support as Durjan. Priyanshu Chatterjee is ordinary as Sanjeev. Denzil Smith doesn’t really stand out in the role of Rudra Pratap Singh. Sunny Leone adds oomph in an item song-dance. Arjun Dwivedi (as Somesh) is adequate. Ravi Khanvilkar (as the Kansi chief), Gulshan Pandey (as the warden), Hussain Shaikh (as Biswaa) and the rest provide routine sup­ port.

Milan Luthria’s direction lacks depth. Like the script, his narration is so routine that it doesn’t really add much. Music is quite good. ‘Mere rashke kamar’ (composed by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) is the best song in the film. ‘Piya more’ (composed by Ankit Tiwari; lyrics by Manoj Muntashir) is also appealing. Other songs (R.D. Burman; traditional folk) are okay. Song picturisations (by Mudassar Khan, Vijay and Dimple Ganguly) are okay, the best being ‘Piya more’. John Stewart Eduri’s background music ought to have been far more impactful. Sunita Radia’s cinematography is eye-filling. Action scenes and stunts (by Ramazan Bulut and Javed-Aejaz) are well-composed but they aren’t thrilling enough. Yet, they would appeal to the masses. Production designing (by Shashank Tere and Saini S. Johray) is fair. Aarif Sheikh’s editing should’ve been tighter.

On the whole, Baadshaho is too routine a fare to impress the audience. It will entail losses to the distributors. Business in single-screen cinemas in the first weekend will be fair (also owing to Eid holiday today (Sept. 2)) but business in multiplexes will be below the mark.