Tell me what a good movie means, to you, and I'll tell you where a good movie's playing.
That, in essence, is the magic of cinema. Or, perhaps, of all art.
Because, that all good art speaks to you is only half a truth. The whole truth being that ALL art speaks to you. Or tries to. If you find yourself speaking back to the piece in question, if you begin to 'engage' in the apparently one-sided conversation, you have what you call a good film.
To my mind, a good film has to be one of three - amusing, touching or thought-provoking.
A truly great film has all three elements. A timepass film has one. A repeat-value film has two overlapping elements. A half-way decent film tries hard, but sometimes falls into the cracks between these.
Bluffmaster is what I call a one-time-repeat-value timepass movie.
It walks a tight-rope between fun and sentiment, between slick and real, and emerges pretty much unscathed, smelling of stardust. Here's why I recommend it:
1] Because Abhishek Bacchan really has started looking really hot. He's finally made it to 'lust object' category, which means that women can stop paying attention to his histrionic skills and just focus on how hot/cool he is. He doesn't have his father's acting skills, not yet, but he's working on it and is already at the stage where he slips into a character's skin without the loose folds showing. Or at least, has the wisdom to pick roles that he can handle with ease.
2] Priyanka Chopra is looking as hot as she's ever looked. She's wearing nice clothes. She's comfortable in her chracter's shoes; she's not hamming. She fits. And characters 'fitting' is half the battle won.
3] A lot of humour.
Some of it is wit-based humour, which is rare in Indian movies. And some of it is just good, old-fashioned, improbable nonsense that you can't help giggling at. Like the scene in which Ritesh Deshmukh is trying to con Boman Irani into believing that he - Boman Irani, that is - has been shot. And then there is Nana Patekar's impossible character - the dangerous 'shark' who begins his day by doing aarti in front of the mirror.
4] The setting is contemporary; the treatment is contemporary. Including the romance between the hero and heroine, which is a welcome relief.
For instance, when Priyanka's character is angry with Abhishek, he tries to win her back - turning up at her work-place, turning up at her apartment. He does not sing mournful songs under her balcony, and she does not sob alone in her bedroom. The heroine is like most independent young career women, and moves on to other men.
5] It is a love story, which makes for easy resonance. But it is not just a love story. It is the story of a con-man, who happens to be in love with an intelligent, headstrong, woman. It is the story of a young man confronted with imminent death, and that's also a game all of us have played in our heads: What if you had only a few months to live? And, paradoxically, not much to live for?
6] It is shot beautifully.
Bombay - the grittiness, the harsh greys and concrete, the sea, the Gateway, the beach, the cheap shack, the skyscrapers, the swank hotels, the pubs, the C-grade cinema halls.... it looks real. It's beautiful.
7] The music is good. The songs don't interrupt the flow of the story. They're pacy and good-looking. (In fact, the last 'item' song that's all the rage right now, arrives only when the credits roll at the end. Nobody wants to leave the hall, of course, as long as that number's playing!)
8] There's a twist in the tale.
9] Most importantly, the 'pace' is right. Many a good script is doomed when the narrative begins to drag. Thankfully, the director (Rohan Sippy) has not resorted to slick-tricks like jump-cuts, or deliberate convolutions of plot in an attempt to control pace. Also, there are no parallel sub-plots side-tracking the story, nor irrelevant flashbacks into the hero's unhappy childhood.
Like any good story, Bluffmaster unfolds smoothly, taking care to carry you along so that you don't feel breathless, bored or confused. Which is why it gets my vote. And an unlikely, much-delayed review. Two years later, I will have forgotten all about it and will, possibly, even wonder what was wrong with my sensibilities. However, two weeks after I saw the movie, I'm sitting here, saying that it's worth watching a second time. Which is something, no?