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April 12, 2002
For those Indians away from the city of dons, Mumbai, the latest dish served by Ram Gopal Varma may not turn out as thrilling as it would for the Mumbaiyya crowd.
Company is of Mumbai, for Mumbai. The film is so full of Mumbaiyya slangs and real life situations that it might bounce over the heads of far off audience, say, Haryana or Bihar.
It is a fast-paced movie, anchored by brilliant performances --- yes, Vivek Oberoi is worth all the words of praise he got before the film's release and will get post it --- no romantic songs (mercifully) despite two leading ladies; mafia murders picked up from real life and good cinematography. Company has a well crafted look, though at times it feels a bit too long.
The first half of the movie looks like a media campaign to join the Company, in other words, the underworld: join the company, have fun. Do some dirty business and have a good life.
Which Chandu aka Chandrakant Nagre (Vivek Oberoi) does and soon shifts from a 6 feet x 6 feet slum dwelling into the plush apartment of a multi-storied building. He gets to meet the cream of society, and marries a beautiful girl.
Just when Mumbai tough cop Srinivasan (Mohanlal) gets hot on their trail, Chandu and boss Malik (Ajay Devgan) coolly shift base to Hong Kong.
They live abroad happily, with their lady loves (Manisha Koirala and Antara Mali), and henchmen running their 'company' through cellphones. Actually, they live happily so long that you almost believe the movie is about to end and you can get out of the cinema hall.
But no. It's just the interval. As the narrator says in the beginning of the movie, "Is company me koi bhi jab chahe tab bharti ho sakta hai, par isteefa nahi de sakta [Anyone can join this company any time, but no one can resign from it]." Some editing could have saved this serious dialogue from being a satirical comment about the length of the movie.
A misunderstanding between Malik and his loyal Chandu busts the blood dams in Mumbai. A gang war breaks out and corpses start littering the streets. Finally, you arrive at a message in the end: crime does not pay.
But it pays good dividends: neither Chandu's mother (Seema Biswas), nor the girl in love with Chandu mind his illegal activities. They are happy with the gold trappings. The mother is happy in the apartment; the girl does not mind Chandu being a Bhai (don, in Mumbaiyya slang).
Company differs from other Hindi movies in this aspect. No mother mouthing dialogues about morality and honesty.
The three male protagonists are a treat to watch. Mohanlal as a South Indian police officer has the best Hindi oneliners in the movie. Ajay Devgan speaks volumes with his lanky body language and brooding eyes. Ditto with Vivek Oberoi who has the longest role in the film. And does justice to it like a veteran.
Manisha Koirala as Malik's girlfriend and Antara Mali as Chandu's wife lend a human touch to the seemingly inhuman life of gangsters.
Frankly, Urmila Matondkar in the title song is much too in the style of Rangeela and Kaun. One wishes she didn't pout and writhe so much. Similarly, the item song Khallas shot on Esha Koppikar. It's out and out for front-benchers and breaks the tempo of the movie.
Overall, I would say Company is a good movie. But most of the time it sends the wrong signals: that crime can be taken casually till it gets back to you.
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