Two Words on “Billa” (Telugu)
*Warning: This post is too long, contains too many spoilers and some Objectionable content. Reader discretion is advised. Further, I claim full responsibility for everything that I have written here and thereby I declare that I wasn’t under the influence of drugs, alcohol and other substances while writing this review.
Over the past few decades, ever since Telugu film industry has tried to experiment with genres other than the Family Drama, it has had traces of some X, Y, Z movie and sometimes from movies in other languages/countries. With the advent of Cable TV and internet, I believe, we as an audience are more aware of other Film Industries across the world and some of us who take a little more interest in movies have gone one step further. Now, we can recollect the scenes, interpret complex themes and can even tell what makes Wong Kar Wai’s or Quentin Tarantino’s style so special. However this awareness is sometimes a bane too, because when you see the original, you will realise how some of your favourite movies have liberally ripped off scenes from that original film. Something of that sort happens while watching the new Telugu movie, directed by Meher Ramesh “Billa” starring Prabhas, Anushka, Namitha.
“Billa” is the story of a don, a police officer and a look alike of don. Since 1978 (Don, starring Amitabh Bachchan was released) there have been 6 remakes of the original in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam which makes Meher Ramesh’s “Billa” the 7th remake of Don. However, this Telugu version is heavily inspired by the 2007 Tamil film, “Billa” starring Ajith, Nayanathara, Namitha. Some say, this telugu version is a complete rip off of that Tamil Version. You must have seen atleast one of those 7 films made till date and if you happen to be a movie buff, chances are that you might have seen atleast 4-5 remakes of the Original “Don”. This is exactly where everything starts going against “Billa”(Telugu).
Before going further into the intricate details, I must add that “Billa” looks lavish. Most of the film has been shot in Malaysia and also boasts of brilliant sets, cinematography, costumes, stunts, glamour quotient. Having said that, “Billa” is also possibly one of the most unoriginal movie of 2009. Here’s why..
1. Complete rip off of “Billa”, 2007 Tamil film starring Ajith and directed by Vishnuvardhan
2. One of the best dialogues in the movie, “There are 515 million guns in the world, which means 1 gun for every 12 people. My job is to equip the other 11 with guns” is directly lifted from 2008 Telugu movie, Jalsa which inturn is plagarised from a 2005 English film, “Lord of War” starring Nicolas Cage.
3. “Hasta la vista, Baby!” which Billa often uses, is a direct copy of a similiar line by Arnold in the cult film, “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”.
4. The “Fencing” episode is heavily inspired from a similar scene in “Die Another Day”, the 2002 Bond film.
5. The background score in some scenes is blatantly plagiarised. The trademark score of “Terminator” franchise marks its presence in some scenes.
6. The climax scene where Billa and Devil face off is loosely inspired from a similar scene between Colin Farell and Al Pacino from the movie, “Recruit”.
“Billa” is also a classic example of bad casting. The ensemble is probably good individually, but as a team they fail to pack a punch.
1. Prabhas: He’s stylish in the film. That’s all there is to write about him in this film. The moment he opens his mouth to deliver his lines, you begin to wonder if he’s really a don! The English diction is worse than expected. However, the role of “Ranga” is a bit funny to begin with, but that too vanishes in no time.
2. Anushka: The current sweetheart of Telugu Film Industry looks gorgeous. Again, with a badly written character and with hardly any footage, saving the Bikini scenes, she hardly counts in the movie.
3. Namitha: I believe, the producers and director were under the influence of narcotics when they decided to cast Namitha as Lisa. Andhra Pradesh is not Tamil Nadu. You cannot expect the same patronage for her in Telugu films, how difficult was that to guess?! I think, I have a perfect explanation why she was restricted to mini skirts/bikinis in the movie. Look at her from a mile away and you will most probably come to a conclusion that the Costume department ran out of fabrics! To even call her “sexy” or “beautiful” which some of us have already stated, is a matter of great disgrace to “Womanhood”. A total eye sore, irritative…overall a terrible decision to cast her in the film.
4. Krishnam Raju: Come on! Seriously..WTF was he doing there?! This is 2009 and you still expect the audience to go back to 80’s watching the “Rebel Star” pack a punch!!! He was a big big let down, a fact further aggravated by his extremely poor English pronounciation and sad histrionics. Check him out deliver all those horrible “One Liners”, My God! He was unintentionally hilarious!
5. Supreet: What’s wrong with the directors in our films? Why would someone ask arguably one of the best villians in Telugu Film Industry roam around in a suit, where he should be flexing his muscles in the first place! People still remember him as “Kaatraaz” in Rajamouli’s “Chatrapati” and that’s exactly how you expect him to be. Again, a very talented artist completely wasted.
6. Hansika: Sizzles in a song. And the song isn’t as impressive as “yeh, mera dil”
There has been a never ending debate about how films should be watched in first place. Yes, I agree that for most of us it’s only a 3 hour excuse to while away our time…yet you don’t wish to be taken for granted. And too many films these days are getting sucked into this quagmire…a sneak peek with respect to “Billa”.
1. Why would someone use his/her name as a password to the computer, given the premise that it’s supposed to be a top secret?!
2. WTF is “Can-Can”? I wish there was a better catch phrase!
3. They wear “Armani” suits (which I seriously doubt), drive around in Mercs and deal with International smugglers. The whole film is set in Malaysia which means the film makers cannot even give the excuse of changing the script according to “Nativity”. Yet, they hardly manage to speak a line in English properly. Wouldn’t it make more sense if everyone, actors, actresses, writers were made to undergo a course in spoken English?
4. I have never heard a plane filled with arms wait for that long in an airstrip! It looked as if they were all waiting for the police to arrive…
5. And that wasn’t a Ferrari!!! You can’t fake a Ferrari by just pasting some stickers on the car like that!
Phew! I seriously wish, we take our movies more seriously. Not only will that ensure that we raise our voice and concern about our standards of film making, but also it will give a strong message to the film industry that don’t take us for granted. If we can tell the difference between a Hyderabadi Biryani and a Andhra Style Chicken Biryani, how difficult is it to differentiate between a good film and a bad film! But having said all that, I will definitely credit “Billa” for some brilliant cinematography, costumes and some unintentionally hilarious scenes especially the 10 second fencing face off between Anushka and Namitha. Meher Ramesh, who so far has been making a potpourri of movies (his last flick, “Kantri” was heavily inspired by Pokiri and Bluffmaster) is bound to make a killing this time. The biggest hit of this year, Arundhati is losing its steam in multiplexes and other centres and with no other big release over the next 2-3 months, it’s a clear field for “Billa”. It’s highly recommended for those, who enjoy even cheesy flicks, who hardly watch 4-5 movies a year, who don’t watch English, Hindi, Tamil or other foreign language movies. But if you don’t fall under that category, take my advice, avoid it unless you are a huge fan of Prabhas/Anushka.
And I thought, I had just two words on “Billa” (Telugu). It Sucks.
Hasta la vista.
Note: The biggest achievement of this film would be inspiring few hundred people to pack their bags and go on a vacation to Malaysia! That’s the only thing the Malaysian Tourism Board can hope for.