Do You Like What You See
There are some Bollywood films that have gained notoriety for being unofficial remakes of recognizable Hollywood films, and a handful comes to mind, even for blockbusters like Ghajini and Krrish that had scenes lifted. But there are some in the industry who will go the legitimate way of seeking rights and having their films become official remakes, such as Farah Khan's Tees Maar Khan (remaking After the Fox starring Peter Sellers), and now the Alibhai Burmawalla brothers Abbas and Mastan's Players, a remake of The Italian Job, which in itself was given a fairly recent makeover starring Mark Wahlberg to which this film is more closely aligned, compared to the Michael Caine starred original.
What does Bollywood then bring to the table in a remake of a film? For starters, the song and dance sequences had to be naturally weaved into the narrative, otherwise without which it couldn't have come from India's filmmaking machinery. Running almost three hours long, the film contains of cleverly inserted pieces especially used when the female characters have to seduce their way into fulfilling their objectives. Those involving Bipasha Basu worked since the actress is known for being sultry although one can tell of her losing some weight and curves, while Sonam Kapoor seemed to have bulked up a little (for the better rather than being painfully pencil thin) but for her dances to be a little bit awkward when she was supposed to be sensual.
Like most Bollywood treatment, a fair deal goes into the build up prior to the intermission, and in this case the film had taken its time to introduce all its key characters, starting with the top player in the business, the thieving Charlie Masceranhas (Abhishek Bachchan) who together with Bipasha's Riya form a tag team of sorts who go out to raid from the most unsuspecting of victims, in a prologue taking place in Amsterdam. They soon get onto an opportunity for the heist of some stolen Romanian gold bars which are en route back from Russia to Romania, and under the guidance of jailed mastermind Victor (Vinod Khanna), become part of a star studded team of talented individuals brought together to pull off the robbery. This ensemble includes Bobby Deol as Ronnie the magician and illusionist, who are very technically creative folks, Neil Nitin Mukesh as Spider the computer hacker, Sikander Kher as Bilal Bashir the explosives expert and engineer, and Omi Vaidya (who shot to fame with his debut in 3 Idiots) as the actor and make up artist Sunny.
If you're already familiar with The Italian Job movies, the team gets double-crossed from within after successfully pulling off the job of their lives through meticulous preparation and planning, leaving in actual fact most of the story about how this lack of honour amongst thieves had the survivors of the betrayal band together to exact revenge through, you guessed it, another heist of their own against the betrayer. In this Hindi remake however, the double crossing goes on for quite a fair bit, and as such allowed room to stretch the narrative, which no thanks to a very verbose, dialogue laden nature having everyone explain their one-upmanship to their opponents, became a little bit of an unwelcome drag, sacrificing an action packed finale, for one that's marred with plenty of stand offs, posturing and bogged by the ol' villain/hero monologues stating the very obvious, which the directing duo tried to painstakingly show that they didn't really cheat by showing that they had clues planted in the scenes all along.
With all masala entertainers, the film has its fair share of carefully crafted set action pieces to wow and to thrill, especially its central piece of having a turbo charged train in hot pursuit of their mark, and the iconic Italian Job mini cars that zip through insanely crowded road traffic. In some instance the chases involving the minis got overshadowed somehow and didn't play a big part in the film, though credit to the filmmakers for tossing things up and adding a new flavour of their own even to surprise those who have watched the originals. Romance also features heavily in this Hindi version, with a love triangle set up between Charlie, Riya and Victor's daughter Naina (Sonam Kapoor), though it had the latter bogged down with jealousy for the most parts, and had its focus distinctly split down by the interval, with Charlie and Riya's arc in the first half, followed by the growing affections Charlie has for Naina when it calls for some sacrifice to be done.
Players is an adequately stylish remake of The Italian Job, with high production values that didn't scrimp on making this one giant, jet setting epic, hopping between countries and cities, from Russia to New Zealand, from St Petersburg to Moscow, Auckland to Wellington. Action thrillers coming from Bollywood have improved leaps and bounds with recent offerings such as Don 2 pulling out all the stops in terms of locales and stunts, going beyond the shores of India and doing their utmost to appeal to an international audience by meeting the standards set by the best in the business. It may not be that flawless action flick, but it certainly contained all the right ingredients necessary to be so.