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Brothers in Arms


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Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (2024)

The first half of “Bade Miyan Chote Miyan” is a jolly action buddy comedy which includes our heroes, Freddie (Akshay Kumar) and Rocky (Tiger Shroff), beginning a hostage rescue by riding some horses off the back of a helicopter. The second half of “Bade Miyan Chote Miyan” is a fantasy war thriller based on the password to the scientific shield keeping India safe from missile attack. In both halves the evil villain, Kabir (Prithviraj Sukumaran), strides around in a bedazzled MF Doom mask, a large selection of stylish full-length black coats, and enough evil plans to justify the Indian army going rogue, not that his evil results are terribly impressive. But this is not one of those movies a person is meant to take seriously. We're meant to admire the pretty stars and have a great time knowing the nation is safe in their hands. It's a delight.

Our heroes are the best of friends and also the best soldiers in the Indian army, sent on the toughest missions to stab, shoot and beat up everyone and blow up everything as their shirts artfully disintegrate on their bodies so we can admire their abs. In the course of events they are pushed out of the army so Rocky becomes a fireman and Freddie a roughneck. But when Kabir attacks a military convoy and steals a “package” with complete success, their patriotic duty compels them to put their uniforms back on to save the day. It helps this duty is pressed upon them by the impressive Captain Misha (Manushi Chhillar), and reinforced by horny glasses-wearing tech Pam (Alaya F.). Soon everyone is running around the train tunnels under Waterloo station and then getting into an extremely lengthy fistfight on a van pointlessly speeding through a dockyard within visual sight of the London Eye. This was all filmed in Glasgow but of course playing fast and loose with British geography is one privilege of Indian filmmaking. Unfortunately so is the treatment of the package, which turns out to be Priya (Sonakshi Sinha), a former fiancée of Freddie's who had the details for the scientific shield implanted in her brain. Safer than a microchip, apparently! This means Priya spends most of her time chained up and/or unconscious and Ms. Sinha is also invisible in all but one of the dance numbers, which were filmed in Jordan without much direct bearing to the main story.

But honestly, even the dull treatment of the women and the utterly ludicrous plot doesn’t matter much. The reason to watch this film is the fighting skills of the two main actors and their jokey repartee as they flip around on wires, wipe their knives on their adversary's clothes as he falls dead to the floor and flick around hand grenades like peanut shells. Some of the jokes are pretty good, especially the one about terrorism becoming a nepo business; and both Mr. Kumar and Mr. Shroff's willingness to mock their own public images is refreshing. They are also so comfortable with each other at one point Freddie plants a kiss on Rocky's cheek.

One final thing. The evil plan boils down to removing the free will of India's fighting forces, prompting many patriotic speeches from General Azad (Ronit Roy) about how India is the best nation because it cherishes free will and how its citizens listen to their conscience. As the armies of the West, in life and in art, seem to believe their only hope of winning is by dehumanizing their soldiers as much as possible, it's really great to see art from any nation drawing a line against that in any form.


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