Review: ‘Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan,’ starring Salman Khan, Pooja Hegde, Venkatesh and Jagapathi Babu

April 26, 2023

by Carla Hay

Salman Khan in “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan” (Photo courtesy of Zee Studios)

“Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan”

Directed by Farhad Samji

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in India, the action film “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan” (a remake of the 2014 film “Veeram”) features an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A marriage-phobic vigilante teams up with his three foster brothers to fight crime, including trying to stop a murder plot against the family of his love interest. 

Culture Audience: “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of “Veeram,” the movie’s headliners, and mindless action movies that are aggressively stupid.

Siddharth Nigam, Pooja Hegde, Raghav Juyal and Jassie Gill in “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan” (Photo courtesy of Zee Studios)

Get ready for your hearing and your brain cells to be assaulted when watching the loud, bombastic and idiotic “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan.” Note to filmmakers who make this type of trash: Stop the madness. Cast people who can act. It’s the same junk: a ‘hero’ in fake action scenes, a pretty love interest, revenge plots, murders. No one respects overly long, boring, and unoriginal garbage.

Directed by Farhad Samji (who co-wrote the mindless screenplay with Sparsh Khetarpal and Tasha Bhambra), “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaa” is yet another unnecessary remake that is inferior to the original movie. “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaa” (which means “someone’s brother, someone’s lover” in Hindi) is a remake of the 2014 Tamil-language film “Veeram.” There’s so much bad acting in “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaa,” you have to wonder if the filmmakers made these choices as a way to torture viewers, who will already have their endurance tested by the movie’s 144-minute total running time and the excessively loud sound design throughout the entire film.

In “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaa,” the dimwit protagonist with a lot of muscles but very little charm is Bhaijaan, nicknamed Bhai (played by Salman Khan), a never-married bachelor who doesn’t seem to be doing anything with his life but being a violent vigilante who fights crime in his home city of Delhi. As shown later in the movie, Bhai has this to say about men who cry tears when expressing emotions: “Crying is for losers.” Bhai has three sidekicks in his crime-fighting efforts: Ishq (played by Raghav Juyal), Moh (played by Jassie Gill) and Love (played by Siddharth Nigam), who all call themselves brothers of Bhai.

These four men are actually not biologically related to each other. It’s revealed in a flashback shown early on in the movie that Ishq, Moh and Love were orphans. Bhai rescued Ishq, Moh and Love from an orphanage fire when Ishq, Moh and Love were about 6 or 7 years old, and Bhai was about 16 or 17. Bhai raised Ishq, Moh and Love as if they were his brothers.

In the flashback, Bhai only looks about 10 years older than Ishq, Moh and Love. In the present day, Bhai looks about 20 to 25 years older than his “brothers.” It’s one of many examples of how the movie is sloppily made. Salman Khan’s mother Salma Khan is the main producer of “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaa,” which is obviously a family vanity project. It’s a lot easier to get cast in the starring role of movie, no matter how terrible your acting is, if you have a parent who’s paying for the movie to get made.

The brotherly bond between these four men is so tight, it’s affected all of their love lives. Bhai is commitment-phobic when it comes to love and romance. He has said he never wants to get married. Ishq, Moh and Love crave Bhai’s approval, so they say the same things. However, Ishq, Moh and Love secretly have girlfriends, who are growing frustrated that they can’t be open about their respective relationships with Ishq, Moh and Love.

Ishq’s girlfriend is Sukoon (played by Shehnaaz Gill), Moh’s girlfriend is Muskaan (played by Palak Tiwari), and Love’s girlfriend is Chahat (played by Vinali Bhatnagar). Sukoon, Muskaan and Chahat don’t have a lot of screen time. But when they do appear, it’s only to whine about their love lives.

In fact, “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaa” cares so little about women, the only women characters with significant speaking roles in the movie mainly exist for the purpose of being love interests for the men. It’s all very backwards and unimaginative filmmaking, just like many other aspects of this very outdated-looking movie.

Ishq, Moh and Love want to go public with their girlfriends, so they hatch a plot to find a girlfriend for Bhai. The idea is that if Bhai falls in love, he will ease up on his rigid view that these four “brothers” cannot have serious love relationships. Ishq, Moh and Love know that Bhai had a serious romance when he was younger with a woman named Bhagyalakshmi, nicknamed Bhagya.

Ishq, Moh and Love heard that Bhagya currently lives in Mumbai. And so, these three “Brothers” decide to find her and play matchmaker. But these three dolts don’t do what most people in modern society would do: an Internet search to find out first what Bhagya’s relationship status is. When they get to Mumbai, they find out that Bhagya is happily married with a child. Once again, it’s outdated filmmaking and stupidity on display.

This matchmaking farce just wastes time in this already bloated movie. The next unrealistic thing that Ishq, Moh and Love do is try to find a woman named Bhagyalakshmi, nicknamed Bhagya, who is attractive enough to date Bhai. That’s how Bhai meets Bhagyalakshm “Bhagya” Gundamaneni (played by Pooja Hegde), who works as an “antiques researcher.” Bhagya, who also calls herself “Bhaggy,” lives in Andhra Pradesh, India.

Bhai and Bhagya have their “meet cute” moment when she bumps into him at an outdoor market in Hyderabad, and she drops an antique vase that goes crashing on the ground. Bhai is immediately smitten with the new Bhagya in his life, but she predictably plays hard-to-get. Bhagya is probably one of the most annoying characters in the movie because she’s a stereotype of a helpless and ditzy “damsel in distress” who’s waiting to be rescued by a male love interest. It doesn’t help that Hegde’s terrible acting is hard to watch.

Bhagya tells Bhai up front that any man she dates has to get the approval of her brother Balakrishna Gundamaneni (played by Venkatesh), who is domineering and overprotective. Balakrishna, who is married with a young daughter, also hates violence. And since Bhai leads a very violent life, much of the movie is about his trying to hide the truth from Bhagya and her family.

Every action movie at least one villain. And in “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaa,” there are two villains: First, there is Mahavir (played by Vijender Singh), who is the type of villain who wears a lot of business suits. Mahavir hates how Bhai and his sidekicks are ruining his criminal enterprises, so he wants to kill all four of these vigilantes.

The other villain is Kodati Nageshwar (played by Jagapathi Babu), a thug who wants to kill Balakrishna and all of the members of Balakrishna’s immediate family. This revenge killing was already planned before Bhai and Bhagya started dating each other. The reason for this murder plot is so obvious, because the movie has no subtlety in showing and repeating how fanatical Balakrishna is about being against violence.

“Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaa” has some standard musical numbers which further drag out an already vapid story. The songs in these musical scenes are forgettable and trite. Salman Khan is not a skilled dancer, so it’s somewhat amusing to see him try to keep up with the backup dancers in these musical scenes. That amusement is slight though, and it will just give way to more irritation as “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan” keeps piling on scenes that are idiotic and don’t really go anywhere, including some scenes that have obnoxiously blatant product-placement shilling of Pepsi.

Filmmakers will continue to churn out dreck like “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan” if they think it will make them any money. That doesn’t mean that people who like movies automatically have to watch this type of relentless insult to viewers’ intelligence. Avoid “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan” at all costs. Your brain cells will thank you.

Zee Studios released “Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on April 21, 2023.

Review: ‘Cirkus’ (2022), starring Ranveer Singh, Varun Sharma, Pooja Hegde and Jacqueline Fernandez

December 28, 2022

by Carla Hay

Jacqueline Fernandez, Sanjay Mishra, Ranveer Singh and Varun Sharma in “Cirkus” (Photo courtesy of T-Series Films)


Directed by Rohit Shetty

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in the India, in the 1960s and briefly in the 1930s, the comedy film “Cirkus” features an Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: Two sets of identical twin brothers are separated and switched at birth by a scientist who wants to test the “nature versus nurture” debate, in order to prove his theory that someone’s upbringing has more influence on their personality than biological genetics.

Culture Audience: “Cirkus” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching an aggressively hyperactive and annoying movie with a horrible story about twins and mistaken identities.

Siddhartha Jadhav, Umakant Patil and Ashish Warang in “Cirkus” (Photo courtesy of T-Series Films)

The vibrant cinematography and eye-catching production design of “Cirkus” are all wasted on a silly plot, bad acting and an unjustifiably atrocious ending that ignores ethical and legal issues of deliberately switching babies at birth. It’s a so-called comedy that will bring very few or no laughs to people who care about quality entertainment. The only thing that’s worth laughing at is how the “Cirkus” filmmakers spent a great deal of the movie’s budget on elaborate set designs and visual effects but then made the cheap-looking decision to have obvious toy dolls instead of real babies in the brief time that infants are shown on screen.

Directed by Rohit Shetty and written by Yunus Sajawal, “Cirkus” is loosely based on the William Shakespeare play “The Comedy of Errors,” which has hijinks that ensue when identical twin brothers have been separated at birth. It feels almost like blasphemy to mention Shakespeare and “Cirkus” in the same sentence, because it’s like comparing priceless art to worthless garbage. “Cirkus” is just too repetitive and too stupid to justify its total running time of 140 minutes. About 30 minutes into this abomination of a movie, viewers will feel like it’s less painful to have a circus elephant sit on them than to sit through watching all of “Cirkus.”

“Cirkus” begins by showing the two brothers who cause the chaos that later happens in the story. Sometime in the 1930s, Dr. Roy Jamnadas (played by Murali Sharma) and his younger brother Joy Jamnadas (played by Uday Tikekar) are operating Jamnadas Orphanage in Bangalore, India. One day, Roy and Joy find two pairs of newborn, identical twin brothers abandoned on the doorstep of the orphanage. The two pairs of twins are around the same age.

Roy decides that he wants to do an experiment to test the “nature versus nurture” debate, in order to prove his theory that someone’s personality is influenced more by that person’s upbringing than biological genetics. Roy wants to switch the identical twins, so that each twin will grow up with a brother he thinks is biologically related but actually is not biologically related. Joy vehemently objects to this very unethical and illegal decision, but Roy is determined to go through with it, and nothing can stop him.

The identical twins are switched so that one of the twin brothers is placed with a twin from the other pair who is biologically unrelated. When all four twin brothers are put up for adoption, they are presented as fraternal twins, not identical twins. Roy promises Joy that he will reveal the truth to all four brothers when the brothers are 30 years old. When Joy asks Roy what will happen if Roy isn’t alive in 30 years, Roy gives a vague response that maybe someone else can tell the twins the truth. Of course, in a predictable movie like “Cirkus,” Roy and Joy live for the next 30 years and show up again in the movie.

And what a coincidence: Both pairs of twins are adopted into families who want to name the twins after the Jamnadas brothers. One pair of the fake fraternal twins named Roy and Joy go to the Indian city of Ooty, where they have been adopted by a circus owner (played by Nikitin Dheer) and his wife (played by Supriya Roy). The other set of the fake fraternal twins named Roy and Joy stay in Bangalore, where they have been adopted by an affluent industrial engineer (played by Arjun Nagar) and his wife Shakuntala Devi (played by Ashwini Kalsekar).

After the babies quickly getting adopted, “Cirkus” briefly shows the two Roys and the two Joys as pre-teen children and teenagers. In these roles are Pratyaksh Panwar as pre-teen Roy, Hridansh Gokani as pre-teen Joy, Arya Mahajan as teenage Roy, and Krishna Panchal as teenage Joy. The movie then fast-forwards to showing the brothers at 30 years old.

For the purposes of this review, the Roy and Joy who grew up in Ooty will be called Ooty Roy and Ooty Joy. The Roy and Joy who grew up in Bangalore will be called Bangalore Roy and Bangalore Joy. Just like the brothers they were named after, Roy is the “alpha male” brother, while Joy is the “beta male” brother. Ooty Roy and Bangalore Roy are both played by Ranveer Singh. Ooty Joy and Bangalore Joy are both played by Varun Sharma.

Ooty Roy and Ooty Joy have taken over running their adoptive family’s circus, which is called Jubilee Cirkus, since their adoptive parents have retired. Ooty Roy has become a famous circus attraction known as Electric Man, for being physically immune when holding objects that conduct large wattages of electricity. Meanwhile, Bangalore Roy feels the effects of these electric jolts every time Ooty Roy does these electrical stunts. It’s a bizarre condition that Ooty Roy and Bangalore Roy have had since their childhoods. (No explanation is given in the movie for why they have this condition.)

The jolts are so big, Bangalore Roy can give people electrical shocks that can be harmful if they touch him. Bangalore Roy doesn’t know why he randomly gets these electrical jolts that run through his body and sometimes cause him to convulse wildly. Expect to see “Cirkus” show a lot of over-exaggerated slapstick comedy (that gets stale very quickly) of people getting electrical shocks and sometimes having seizures from these shocks.

Ooty Roy is happily married to a novelist named Mala (played by Pooja Hegde), who can’t get her work published under her real name for sexist reasons, so she uses the alias Col. Vikrant. And what a coincidence: Col. Vikrant’s biggest fan is Bangalore Roy. Ooty Joy has a girlfriend named Lily (played by Radhika Bangia). Bangalore Joy does not have a love interest in the movie.

The only discontent in the marriage between Mala and Ooty Roy is that they haven’t been able to conceive a child because Mala is infertile. Ooty Roy and Mala are seriously thinking about adopting a child. Mala wants to adopt a child from Jamnadas Orphanage, but Ooty Roy doesn’t like that idea. (You know where this is going, of course.)

Meanwhile, Bangalore Roy has a girlfriend named Bindu (played by Jacqueline Fernandez), whose arrogant and wealthy father Rai Sahab (played by Sanjay Mishra) does not approve of Bangalore Roy dating Bindu, because Rai thinks Bangalore Roy doesn’t come from a rich-enough family. By contrast, Bindu’s kind and open-minded mother Chachi (played by Sulabha Arya) accepts the relationship and treats Bangalore Roy with respect. Bangalore Roy has conflicts with Rai because Bangalore Roy wants to marry Bindu, but Rai refuses to give his blessing.

Rai is a blustering buffoon with a sidekick named Prem (played by Anil Charanjeett), whom Rai describes as his “manager,” but Prem is really just a “yes man” lackey and a completely useless character in a mindless story. The scenes with Rai are among the most cringeworthy in “Cirkus” because Mishra’s acting is so terrible. Rai, like almost everyone else in “Cirkus,” is a one-dimensional caricature.

Bangalore Roy and Bangalore Joy travel by train to Ooty, where they want to buy a tea-making farm. At the train station, three idiotic robbers, who have stolen ₹50,000 in cash, are being chased by police. The travel bag containing the money is accidentally dropped at the train station before the robbers make their getaway on a train that also happens to be the same train that has Bangalore Roy and Bangalore Joy as passengers.

The three robbers are nitwit leader Momo (played by Siddhartha Jadhav), who has a ridiculously large pompadour, and his two, less-talkative sidekicks Mango (played by Ashish Warang) and Chikki (played by Umakant Patil), who have utterly blank personalities. Momo is not only one of the most annoying characters in “Cirkus” (a movie filled with annoying characters), but he’s also perhaps the most annoying character that movie viewers will see in any given year.

Nothing that Momo says is funny, as he shouts his lines and makes dopey facial expressions for the camera. It doesn’t help that Jadhav gives one of the worst performances in the “Cirkus” cast. A recurring “joke” in the movie is that after Momo sees an incident of electrical shocks, he hollers, “Shock you!,” in the way that people curse, “Fuck you!”

These simple-minded robbers have lost their cash, but when they see Bangalore Roy and Bangalore Joy in a train car with a travel bag full of ₹50,000 in cash, the robbers decide to steal the cash from Bangalore Roy and Bangalore Joy. Later, viewers find out that Momo wants the cash to give as a birthday gift to a powerful crime boss named Polson Dada (played by Johnny Lever), who dresses like he’s stepped out of a 1970s pimp den, even though this part of the movie takes place in the 1960s.

Bangalore Roy and Bangalore Joy immediately notice upon arriving in Ooty that strangers already know their names and seem to know who they are. Meanwhile, it should come as no surprise that Ooty Roy and Ooty Joy end up in Bangalore and they get, and they also get mistaken for the other Roy and Joy. Along the way, a taxi driver named Naagmani (played by Vrajesh Hirjee), a jeweler named Veljibhai (played by Tiku Talsania) and a bandit-turned-hotel owner named Daaku Bagheera (played by Mukesh Tiwari) get involved in the ludicrous antics.

From a visual standpoint, “Cirkus” has a lot of eye candy, but the movie’s foolish and grossly unfunny story is like overloading on bad junk food. The title of the movie is also misleading, because only a few scenes actually take place in a circus. But even those circus scenes are nothing but hollow spectacles with very little substance. “Cirkus” completely missed a potentially great story opportunity to have the circus lifestyle as a big part of the movie’s plot.

The movie’s song-and-dance musical numbers are adequate, when it comes to the choreography, but the song lyrics are so witless and boring, they ruin whatever impact the musical numbers were supposed to have. The ending of “Cirkus” hints that there will be a sequel with other characters who have a connection to Jamnadas Orphanage. “Cirkus” is an utter failure at being amusing entertainment. It’s more like an overblown, nonsensical and deceptively flashy carnival act that cheats people out of their time and money.

T-Series Films released “Cirkus” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on December 23, 2022.

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