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What is Footpath all about?

Anita Bora | August 15, 2003 19:32 IST

Aftab Shivdasani, Bipasha Basu in FootpathFrom the house of Mahesh Bhatt, Footpath promises to be a racy film about pain, friendship, love and betrayal.

Promises, as we all know, are meant to be broken.

Buoyed by the success of Jism, Bhatt tries to weave a complex tale of three friends driven apart during childhood by a murder committed by one of them. It is a tale of lovers reunited. Of shady drug deals in Mumbai's alleyways. Of corrupt police officials and a few good ones. Of the good guy who wants to change his friends. It's all been done before. So if you are looking for a fresh new script from Bhatt, you might be a tad disappointed.

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The story itself revolves around three young friends, Rahul Srivastav (Emraan), his brother Shekhar Srivastav (Rahul Dev) and Arjun Singh (Aftab Shivdasani), whose father is murdered in front of him. Rahul avenges the death of his friend's father, sealing their bond of friendship forever. Arjun is forced to run away and take refuge in Delhi to escape the police, leaving behind his childhood love Sanjana (Bipasha Basu).

After 12 years, the police trace Arjun in Delhi. They strike a deal where Arjun can avoid being arrested (for supposedly committing a crime when he was about 10?). He has to get back to Mumbai and infiltrate a drug gang find their supply source.

This gang is run by none other than his own friends Shekhar and Rahul. If Arjun does not agree, they will both be killed in a police encounter, says the good cop. Bound by his desire to save his friends, Arjun decides to cooperate with the police.

Rashmi Talik, Emraan in FootpathThe biggest loophole is the fact that Arjun did not kill his father's murderer. He was about 10-12 years old. Why is he still scared of the police? But since the whole movie is based on this premise, we swallow that and move along. Sanjana bursts into a fit of hysteria when Arjun comes back. She is hot and bothered because Arjun left her when they were both in their diapers! Bringing us to the conclusion that life really seems to begin at 10.

A few of the movie's redeeming points: The one man who makes an impact is Emraan. His character, Rahul, lives his life on the streets, working with his brother, supplying drugs for money. As the bullied younger brother, who grows more aware of what he is doing, it is Emraan who endears himself with his mannerisms and dialogue. In his debut role, he gives a commendable performance, holding his own opposite the more experienced Rahul Dev and Aftab Shivdasani. Also, in her debut role is Rashmi Talik as the English teacher, who Emraan's character develops a soft spot for.

Rahul Dev as the gang lord, walks around in long sleek jackets, drives a flashy car but lives in a dingy flat. But overall, a good performance from him as a cold blooded dealer, trying his best to survive in the world of crime, even if it is having to take his brother's life.

Aftab, who is basically torn between loyalty to his friends and the police, conveys his confusion and hurt reasonably well. While his intention is taking his friends out of a life of crime, he is only sucked deeper into its labyrinth.

Bipasha, on her part, is either extremely angry (heaving bosom and tears) or extremely in love (heaving bosom and tears again). If you're looking for a repeat of Jism, then you've been warned -- it ain't gonna happen here. She doesn't do much except get into angry fits. As to chemistry, there's actually more of that happening between Aftab and Emraan.

Emraan, Rahul Dev and Aftab Shivdasani in FootpathThis relationship forms the crux of the film. Some scenes make an impact. When Aftab and Emraan find each other after 12 years. When Emraan confesses having a soft corner for Rashmi. Emraan confessing to his elder brother that he is tired of life in the low lane. When Emraan finds out that Aftab is actually working for the police.

But despite some reasonably good performances, the whole result lacks the gripping element that a film in this genre should have contained. The ingredients are all there. The chef seems to have missed a step. Unfortunately, the story wanders in the first half, trying to tell too many stories. And that is what becomes the undoing of the film.

The music composed by Nadeem Shravan and Himesh Reshammiya, have a few hummable numbers starting off with a fast Soorat Pe Teri Pyaar Aave. But the music stays at an average level and not rising to any great heights. Another noticeable point in the film are locations of the road and outdoor scenes (a film set). There seems to be little or no thought given to these locations - Shekhar's house, the police briefing room, Bipasha's house (a very wealthy salesgirl obviously), the road scenes. Some looked downright shoddy. While some locations are overused.

The blood and gore, the violence and sometimes profane dialogue is all well to depict life in the streets. But it all seems wasted in the end when some basic questions remain unanswered. The climax is difficult to understand. If Shekhar killed his brother, what would stop him from killing Arjun? Why does Arjun think he will suddenly turn into a new leaf? That wasn't bravery, that was stupidity! And what did Arjun actually achieve in the end after all this bloodshed and subterfuge?

The answer is definitely not in the footpath!

Cast: Aftab Shivdasani, Rahul Dev, Emraan, Bipasha Basu, Rashmi Talik
Director: Vikram Bhatt
Producer: Vishesh Films
Music: Nadeem Shravan, Himesh Reshammiya

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