Merely Masala

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Vivek Nityananda

FILM >> KAMINEY
DIRECTOR >> VISHAL BHARDWAJ
STARRING >> SHAHID KAPOOR, PRIYANKA CHOPRA, AMOL GUPTE
RATING>> * * * * *

EVERYBODY LOVES KAMINEY. Me too. It’s made by that director of two great films, but promises to be an entertainer. Its hip edginess is appealing. And it’s got that cool song. But it’s not the promised treat.

Charlie and Guddu (Shahid Kapoor) are twins – one lisps, the other stammers. Charlie is trying to set up his bookie business by working with three Bengali brothers who fix horse races. Guddu works for an NGO, is in love with Sweety (Priyanka Chopra), a feisty Maharashtrian, and has his life charted out in years. Guddu has to escape the wrath of Sweety’s brother Bhope (Amole Gupte), a future politician on a pro-Maharashtrian plank that has no place for a brother-in-law from UP while Charlie has to evade corrupt cops (Shivkumar Subramanian and Hrishikesh Joshi) who want their drugs consignment back. The plotlines get tangled up, leading to a string of confrontations, slugfests and explosions.

There is so much to praise in Kaminey. It’s grittily shot and avoids hackneyed Bollywood trails. The snappy dialogue and character eccentricities pull in the laughs but this is no Sankat City style black comedy caper. The comic tension here creates many great moments like the gun-waving scene between Bhope’s gang and Mikhail (Chandan Roy Sanyal ) where laughter precedes slaughter. Shahid Kapoor achieves a breakthrough and Priyanka Chopra dives into her role with glee. The supporting cast is brilliant with Gupte and Sanyal delivering shining performances.

However, it is when a film comes close to the real deal that failures stand out most. Despite all its quirkiness, the film takes itself too seriously to be a mindless action flick. One misses the titillation of plot twists. The characters work best when they are amusing and touching but are forced to discover their hidden intensities. The brothers lack a connection and the theme of fraternal hatred is poorly developed in the first half. A flashback to flesh out their story comes in too late and is rudely inserted towards the end. The surreal sequences are a mixed bag, with some of them looking plain tacky. The climax ends with a rounding up of characters that belongs more in one of Priyadarshan’s comedies than in a gritty gangster flick.

It seems petty to pick at these shortcomings but they pull down what is otherwise a great entertainer. Kaminey packs a mean punch and is a cracker of an action film, if not the promised revolution in Hindi cinema.

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