By Jerry Pinto
IT TAKES GUTS. Luck By Chance came, was seen and failed to conquer the box office. Noir thrillers have come and been treated likewise. It takes guts to put Shruti Hassan and Imran Khan in a single noir thriller film with a name that already has the smell of failure hanging around it.
Unfortunately, it also takes a mind capable of ripping off films like The Most Dangerous Game and the Evelyn Waugh short story The Man Who Liked Dickens. Come to think of it, the idea that the tables should be turned and a man should be hunted isn’t even new in Hindi films. There’s that wonderful scene in Mere Jeevan Saathi (1972) in which Helen warns Rajesh Khanna that she is hunting him. “Jaanwar jitna khatarnaak ho, jitna chaalaak ho, use maarne mein utna hi zyaada maza aata hai,” she lisps. (The smarter and more dangerous your prey, the greater the fun of the kill).
But the biggest and most dangerous risk that Ho Hum Shah takes is that he tries to rip off13 Tzameti, a cult French film, in which a group of people are gathered to play Russian roulette for high stakes. 13 Tzameti makes it clear that some of those who gather to kill or be killed are there for the pleasure of it, while others are there because they need the money.
Luck does not even allow for that logic. The organisers of the game, Musa (Sanjay Dutt) and Tamang (Danny Denzongpa), choose only a bunch of lucky people to play.
13 Tzameti works on the principle that if you bring a group of people into a room, shoot in sepia, keep the camerawork so tight that you can see the blackheads on people’s faces, tell the audience nothing much about anyone except a few of the characters, you’re going to rivet them to their seats. Luck does what Kaante did to Reservoir Dogs – take the story and tediously establish everyone’s motivations and tell their back stories.
No one seems sure of what they are doing. Imran Khan looks like he hasn’t recovered from the Stockhold Syndrome. Mithun Chakraborty, Danny Denzongpa and Sanjay Dutt expect you to love them because they are Mitthunda and Danny boy and Munnabhai.
But if you’re still planning to see this one, make haste. It’s going to take more than luck to keep it going at the theatres beyond a week.