Lock, stock and smoking ghodas


Neel Chaudhuri

A DARK NIGHT on the Mumbai-Goa highway. A young man in a psychedelic T-shirt tests his bravado by stepping out of his car to take a pee on a particularly desolate stretch of road. Moments later he is speeding towards a hospital with a mysterious, wounded passenger bleeding all over his nice leather upholstery. The guy introduces himself to the hapless driver and says he is a ‘businessman’, and in that fell swoop we are sent stumbling back a few days, into a reconstruction of a series of unfortunate events. Pandora’s box is flung wide open and out come a couple of crooked ‘mother****ing cops’, a two-bit casino owner, his muse, money-laundering businessmen and an outlandish trio of wannabe gangsters — a colourful crop of miscreants who plummet headfirst towards an untidy finale.

If the previous paragraph is rife with cliché you’ll have to forgive me for succumbing to the shallow imagination that brands Akshay Shere’s film. For a movie that goes so far as to extend its title to distinguish it from its namesakes (a song and a television show), there is an alarming lack of originality about ‘The Film’ Emotional Atyachar. Five years ago, an homage to the ensemble heist film might have solicited a ripple of enthusiasm, but it had been a while since Guy Ritchie was the ne plus ultra of trendy filmmaking and even film school types now scoff at that sort of emulation. This film isn’t just derivative; its exploitation of genre style and conventions is almost clumsy. The editing and sound design work only in fits and starts, never fully realising the rhythm-and-skip of the Tarantino/Ritchie school, and the camera circles enough to make you queasy. There is nothing particularly memorable about the music, apart from an unintentionally self-reflexive item song (‘that’s all you got’) that is fortunately truncated immediately.

Five Years Ago, An Homage To The Ensemble Heist Film Might Have Solicited Enthusiasm

There is tickling banter in the script, assigned mostly to Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak and Ravi Kissen, who dominate the film. Among the smatterings of comic respite, one instance stands out: due to their limited means, the three aspiring gangsters (Kissen & company) are forced to conceal their mugs with ‘swine flu masks’. It is a rare moment of unceremonious humour and idiosyncracy. There are signs that Kalki Koechlin’s role as the quietly manipulative femme fatale could so easily have been used to hilarious effect but instead, she is mostly restricted to her uninspired part as the desperate girl in a red dress.


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