Movie Review: BEEBA BOYS (2015) – Not Randeep Hooda’s Greatest
Being Canadian and a hardcore Randeep Hooda fan, It’s going got be difficult to prevent my bias from creeping into this Review of ‘Beeba Boys’. Premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016, the movie is the next project from acclaimed filmmaker Deepa Mehta, and a kind of departure from her regular issues based, emotionally hard hitting films. And it shows.
Here is my somewhat Spoiler-filled Movie Review of ‘Beeba Boys‘. You’ve been warned.
Set in Vancouver Canada, ‘Beeba Boys‘ deals with the Indo-Canadian gang violence apparently prevalent in that community. The story focuses on up and coming thug-ster Jeet Johar (Randeep Hooda) and his new breed of flashy gangsters who are keen on taking over the drug business from the older kingpin Grewal. (Gulshan Grover) This turf war takes a new turn as a low level kidnapper Nep (Ali Momen) joins Johar’s gang with ulterior motives of his own.
The story is an interesting one, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Two warring gangs, a monkey wrench thrown in the middle, with loyalties tested, love lost, deceit and betrayal at every turn, and the fall at the end of a game of cops and robbers. It’s exciting, but ‘Beeba Boys‘ loses something in the execution of it all.
Hooda comes off as the protagonist of the movie, but it looks like it should’ve been less about him and more about Momen’s Nep, given the story. A chance encounter in jail, allows Nep to suck up to, and eventually make his way into Johar’s gang, after some tests. However, Nep’s loyalty lies elsewhere as he is torn between two factions.
The characterizations of this movie are really bad. While we are supposed to see Johar seems to be the main character, he has no redeeming qualities for that to be the case. His actions seem to be motivated by nothing else other than his whim. He’s a terrible son, father and lover, who doesn’t realize the error of his ways until the last scene; and even then, reluctantly so. There’s no growth for the character by the end of the film, except for a vague turn in the 3rd act, which isn’t fully fleshed out.
Nep has a similar problem, despite potentially being the most interesting character. The character is given a lot of sub plots to work with; being put in a position of working for Grewal while reluctant to betray Johar, having a romantic relationship with Grewal’s daughter Choti (Gia Sandhu), all the while trying to deal with this incredibly violent world that he is now a part of. But even with so much going on, Nep is a forgettable character. Momen’s performance is almost always through quizzical facial expressions, as if he is unsure of everything happening around him, and it comes off for the duration of the film.
The world that ‘Beeba Boys‘ is set in is also problematic. The opening of the film sees a reporter interviewing Johar, who seems to be a career criminal, as he unabashedly lays out his plans for the territory war between himself and Grewal on live television. He commits open daytime murders, doesn’t seem to have any fake businesses working as a front for his illegtimate activities or any other cover .Yet the police apparently cannot convict him of anything, ever.
An impotent courtroom scenes serves as the cute-meet for Johar and Katya (Sarah Allen) who, after their initial whirlwind romance, he neglects for the rest of the movie, and refuses to allow her to be a part of his life. While this romantic angle of the film is bad enough, it’s hard not to make comparisons to the Bollywood trope that sees white women serving as the sexual playthings for the South Asian men.
‘Beeba Boy’s also has some strange shot compositions and framing. One particular scene involving Johar’s father (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) stands out, as he narrates an experience he had with his son’s own situation. The scene happens in a bedroom, where the shots go around the room cutting from a mid shot, to a reflection in a mirror, to one from the corner, to a wide side shot to an extreme close up, which then abruptly zooms out. The film seems to have been shot exclusively on location, resulting in these strange camera work that really took me out of the movie.
While Hooda gave a good performance, ‘Beeba Boys‘ failed to live up to the body of work that both the actor, as well as the filmmaker Deepa Mehta have come to be associated with. There are elements of the story that would’ve made a better movie, like the blatant acknowledge by Johar’s mom about being aware of his criminal activities; even a depictionc of the general cultural contrast of seeing Indian gangsters operating in a setting outside of India, would’ve been a far more interesting than the movie we got.