Thursday, May 31, 2007

Shootout at Lokhandwala: Shoot yourself instead

Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Vivek Oberoi, Arbaaz Khan, Tusshar Kapoor, Suniel Shetty, Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan
Director: Apoorva Lakhia
Genre: Pure Horror
Storyline: Events that led to a shootout at Lokhandwala.
Bottomline: Shoot yourself instead

There is a difference between being objective and sitting on the fence, faking concern.
Dishonesty creeps out of every frame in this C-grade potboiler that hides behind Ray Bans, Sanjay Gupta-signature-swagger-shot of heroes walking in a row to slo-mos and DVDs of Ram Gopal Varma’s gangster films that director Apoorva Lakhia seems to have watched in fast forward mode.

Imagine how terrifying a movie this is if baby-faced Tusshar Kapoor, in an attempt to look mean, uses language like ‘Teri Ma Ki,’ sounding like Tendulkar, and not only expects people to be scared of him but also wants us to believe that he kicked Suniel Shetty’s bottom.

The only thing worse than watching Tusshar and Suniel fight is the duo engaging in a verbal duel. It was a close call to figure out who’s bad, not in the evil sort of way, but purely from the point of view of acting honours. Tusshar may have just outdone record-holder Shetty here in this ham-fest.

Vivek Oberoi is the biggest disappointment of the film. Wasted potential. Maybe he’s forgotten his ‘Company’ days as an actor where he brought alive the crude gangster with simmering raw intensity and gritty menacing presence. Here we see Vivek Oberoi, the star. The guy is in total awe of himself, regularly smiling to showcase his dimples like he’s doing ‘Saathiya’ all over again, dressed in clothes and jewellery stolen from Mansoor Khan’s ‘Josh’ set and mouthing cheese-coated gems like: “Bhagwan ne hamari Supari Yamraaj ko di.” Not to forget his slick moves on the dance floor choreographed to numbers like: “In the Mumbai, all over India, we are the Bhaiz… Shake your A” or the jilted lover’s cheap shots at Ms. Rai in the ‘Ganpat’ song.
Only that ‘Ganpat’ is no ‘Kallu Maama,’ the gangsters here are as real as Huey, Dewey and Louie. Sitting ducks surrounded by cops in an apartment in Lokhandwala.

But it’s not before the climax does the shootout actually begin. The film plays out as the version that the police officers responsible for the shootout give their lawyer. So the character to immediately strike a chord with the audience is the lawyer, played by Amitabh Bachchan. Especially, when he asks bad actors Suniel Shetty and Arbaaz Khan to shut up and let the ever-convincing Sanjay Dutt talk.

The problem with the film is its obsession with style and stylisation. More so because it is based on a true incident and this exaggerated stylisation makes it impossible for us to empathise with either sides. The good guys walk in a row in slow mos, the bad guys walk in slow-mos too. Then, there’s this TV journalist who tells us the cops are bad and there’s the lawyer, who was echoing public sentiments earlier in the film, now changing colours to defend the cops. This sort of moral ambiguity arises because the film insists on hero worshipping the cops and the gangsters, and tries to con us into believing that this is what objectivity is all about.

“What everyone saw was real. What no one saw was the truth,” say some of the posters. And some others say: “Based on true rumours.”

Mr. Gupta, Ms. Ektaa and Co, you guys ought to have made up your mind BEFORE you started on the script. It is too late to fight over it at the poster level and in any case, the film is far away from realism or anything connected to the word “true.”

The only truth about this film is that it is flimsy enough to insert itself into an episode of ‘Kyun Ki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi,’ showing the gangsters in positive light – a shameless promotional exercise by co-producers Balaji Films (also the reason Tusshar Kapoor gets to beat Mr. Body Builder Shetty).

Small mercy that Vivek Oberoi didn’t insist pulling the trigger on Abhishek Bachchan himself.


Blogger Shaking Shenoy said...

Dude, I second your review man. This movie was a novel opportunity to address a dark and painful time for Mumbai and it's residents. Lakhia took this opportunity just to sell some fake Raybans and play with filters on a camera. What a festering loser, this pathetic excuse for a director!

6:54 PM  

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