Film Review: Bodyguard

A romantic action picture whose shifts of tone are abrupt even by Bollywood standards, this spin on the 1992 Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston movie about a bodyguard who falls for his difficult charge is silly and derivative, but sneakily entertaining non

The misleadingly named Lovely Singh (Salman Khan) was born to adversity, delivered shortly after his mother was seriously injured in the car crash that killed his father, a bodyguard employed by wealthy, Jaisinghpur-based businessman Sartaj Rana (Raj Babbar).

Lovely eventually followed in his father's footsteps and now works for Tiger Security, a high-end supplier of personal protection to the rich and famous. So he can hardly refuse when Sartaj calls looking for someone to guard his daughter, Divya (Kareena Kapoor). No one has actually threatened her, but Sartaj did some business with Mr. Mahtra (Aditya Pancholi), who turned out to have some shady associates, and Sartaj wants to be sure that Divya is under close watch for the next few weeks. Once she graduates from Symbiosis International College, Divya is getting married in England and will be safely out of harm's way.

But what should be a straightforward gig is complicated by the fact that the pampered, willful Divya doesn't want a bodyguard, especially a humorless muscleman who follows her everywhere, even into the ladies’ room (cue the cute, squealing coeds). Against the advice of her level-headed friend and classmate Maya (Hazel Keech), Divya devises exactly the kind of plan to distract her uniformed babysitter you'd expect from a spoiled rich girl: She calls Lovely's cell-phone and pretends to be "Chhaya," a shy femme fatale who loves him from afar. Wacky complications ensue, but take a dark turn when the stoic Lovely starts to fall for his mysterious caller.

Though lazily plotted—once you start asking questions, you're lost—Bodyguard gets better as it goes along. Divya is too immature and shallowly self-centered to be a tragic (or even tragic-lite) heroine, but she's the sole engineer of her own third-act unhappiness—which gives the thoroughly generic rom-com-with-guns machinations a little individuality—and there's a clever twist hidden in the voiceover narration. The musical numbers are energetic and colorful, and the first is briefly touched by genius: Choreographers Ganesh Acharya and
Vishnudeva actually give Khan's flexing biceps their own little solo.

This is director Siddique's third version of the same movie, following the 2010 Malayalam-language original and the 2011 Tamil remake; a fourth version, in Telugu, is in the works.