Directed by Priyadarshan
Rating: ½ *
Hollywood has made hay when Bruce Willis and Keanu Reeves would sweat blood and single-handedly disarm an explosion that could put innocent many to sleep forever. But this late 80s formula has expired its warrantee a decade ago. So you wonder who to blame for this slick but shallow tribute to the has-beens of thrilling cinema? DVD-wallas who still stock the many sequels of Speed, Die-Hard, Die-Soft and every other film in between are singularly responsible for this epic fail at bomb diffusion by Priyadarshan.
An illegal immigrant is being deported to India after being severely severed. His wife screams and struggles and hams but to no avail. He is none other than immigrant-turned-terrorist Aakash Rehna (Ajay Devgn) who is soon spotted buying explosives along with his side-villain and cautiously confused aide Aadil (Zayed Khan). But we’re in London, where law enforcement is mean and lean, excluding Chief Inspector Shivan Menon (Mohanlal), who’s got a lateral transfer from Tellytubbies and prefers to call himself ‘Chip Inspector Shiv-urn Main on’. Menon and his men crash this crime scene with indiscriminate firing. Luckily our Asian bombers complete their dealing, make a swift escape and take shelter in Laila’s (Mallika Sherawat) item number. She may be cock-eyed and under an Amy Winehouse wig but her bar makes for one hell of a hideout. Aakash isn’t taking chances and completes his disguise with baseball cap.
Once the bombers have done what they do, we’re in ‘Speed’ or ‘Die Hard’ or ‘Source Code’ or one of the million movies that feature the following: a bomb that can be detonated by a trigger, people screaming into phones, people running about in suits, people running about in bullet-proof vests, multiple lives at stake, an anxious negotiator, a cool bomber and some cyber-cafe-quality computer graphics. The man put on top of this mission is yet another Indian- retired counter-terrorism chief Himanshu Verma (Anil Kapoor). Verma is a man of his words. Unless you want to judge him based on his farewell speech: “I’ve learnt three things on the job: Never try to kiss a girl leaning away from you, never climb a fence leaning towards you and never have a party without drinks and fine dining.” And his job was counter-terrorism?
Just when you begin to sweat bullets imagining the bomb shatter the many women and children passengers aboard the explosive train, there’s a shift in gear. The chief terrorist Aakash decides to break into an intimate flashback with his wife Nandini aka Goldilocks (Kangna Ranaut) as we brave the song ‘Tere Bina Autumn nahin lagda’ or something like that. But the song has been stuffed in with a purpose- lead into the back story that defines why Aakash became a terrorist to begin with. “Papa, woh aapse jyada padha likha hain. He’s an injeeneer (Kangna-speak for engineer)!” But against Papa’s will and minimum wage expressions, Nandini marries Aakash, who is then deported since he has been illegally living in the UK. Being scarred by deportation, Aakash returns to the UK 4 years later with a mission: Bomb a bullet train, avenge deportation insult. Here are a few morals of this story: 1) don’t deport illegal citizens, they’ll only return to blow you up, 2) when you’re a terrorist, don’t take a break in the middle of the mission to reconnect with your estranged family and 3) when you’re thrice the size of the tiny bridge that could lead you and others to safety, don’t stand in the middle of it and expect people to pass through you, unless you want to grope them.
For a film that struggles and strives to look like a western product, its VFX is embarrassingly poor. When the train changes tracks, it looks like an Anaconda sliding past with the swish of a PowerPoint slideshow. When Inspector Menon pounces from the bridge between two trains to one of them, the agility of his pounce can trounce any crouching tiger. But the trophy for the most uninspiring VFX has to be the building explosion scene where investigator Himanshu Verma is ‘dragged and dropped’ out of the window like it were done using a computer mouse. Look closely around his collar, there has to be a cursor somewhere.
Anil Kapoor and Ajay Devgn may be sharp but with a blunt script and a blot for a plot, their performances couldn’t save this highly explosive turkey from detonating. Zayed Khan’s performance can be noted for expressions that could make babies cry and if you’d care to note- the colour of his hair fades from blonde to black to blonde again through the film. Kangna is her usual screechy and whiney self and 90% of Sameera Reddy’s scenes have her hopping on bikes, indulging in some clever kayaking and if she has dialogues, her helmet ensured we couldn’t hear them. Mohanlal should do more action films. In the next 20, he should be able to slip into a bullet proof jacket that wasn’t used to cover a car. Boman Irani is perhaps the only one who did justice to the role offered to him but given the fate of this film, it’s about time he went through scripts before accepting a role.
When a film spends 40 crores to establish extremely high production values, it needs to be backed with a script that deserves it. The cinematography isn’t particularly ingenious and the background score by Sandeep Chowta does little to lift the mood. The only appreciable technical aspect has to be the devilishly executed parkour stunts- seen in most chase sequences featuring Zayed Khan. But the chase scene featuring Mohanlal is like a seal skipping between the wickets after having batted a 5-day innings.
From the many horrendous events in this film, there is one that you would surely want to erase from your mind. It is the one where Nandini names her son Aakash, not after her deported husband of the same name, but because (in her own words)… “Aakash mein thoda sa kash hain… aur main chahti thi ki kash tum yahan hote.” Must stab self now.
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