First up, no one's being prudish here, but a complete lack of scruples does not translate to a smart business plan. Heck, it isn't even remotely smart.
Karan (Shahid Kapur), the protagonist of this movie, is offended when his mother (Kiran Juneja) pawns her jewellery for his father's (Anupam Kher) heart operation, but later self-righteously claims that by "building" an entire business out of flouting rules, he's following his heart. Unlike the father, who has spent decades at the same desk in the same job, for the same timings.
And a little before that, Karan knowingly smuggled drugs to Bangkok while ostensibly on a holiday.
This total and unabashed unscrupulousness, by the way, is supposed to have been the clever and fun way to realize your dreams in the pre-liberalization era. Badmaash Company only goes on to show that among the several things that Bollywood increasingly isn't getting, are morality, and career dilemmas of youngsters.
And for all its talk of "new-age" and "realism", the industry doesn't even get the concept of female empowerment. In Badmaash Company, the very ambitious lady lead gets the Americans to do business with her friend's venture by having the client ogle at her legs and neckline. Again, this is the same woman who left her modeling dreams because she was being propositioned for sex while being offered contracts.
This story of get-rich-quick schemes is set in the '90s. A foursome - Karan, Bulbul (Anushka), Chandu, Zing (Chang) - who make quick and insane money out of cheating customs. They lose all reason to operate when the then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh chopped away import duty. They move to America, where they continue being very offensively desi - they make money out of conning import companies, again.
Then follows the Yash-Raj-melodrama-turned-sour formula - money and success go to Karan's head, he hurts and insults his friends-cum-partners, and is then left to his own embittered self. Good sense eventually prevails, but by then it is too late - the law has caught up with Karan. And in America, at least, that means serious business.
A lot of cliches and inanities are strewn all over Badmaash Company, including much contrived coolth and trendiness. The conning activity doesn't ever come across as intelligent or even comic, and it's impossible to even feel sorry for the ones being hoodwinked, given how lame the premises for their business deals are. And Reebok, for one, should have stayed out of this if they cared about their brand.
The actors can't be blamed for this - it is the concept that just won't work. However, for Shahid, this looks like a dead-end pattern of roles that he might end up in if his career doesn't move. Anushka is around just for the pretty clothing and a lot of forced swankiness - she's about the most pleasant thing in the movie, though. Then, there's Anupam Kher and Pawan Malhotra, and Vir Das and Chang, whose roles lend sanity to the story.
Pritam's formula music is quite foot-tapping, and the slick technical values are in place, if not on an overdrive.
Basically, the Yash Raj stables have been in need of a cleaning for some time now, and Parmeet Sethi isn't the guy they're looking for to do it. Skip Badmaash Company and go rent something that was shot in Switzerland and that has a soul.