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Khakee: a rare Bollywood thriller
Arnab Ray |
January 27, 2004 12:11 IST
The Punch: Take the biggest ever star of Hindi filmdom. Add two beauty queens, one to emote, the other to gyrate sensously. Throw in Bollywood's reigning Mr Intense and Mr Casanova. Add to the mix a competent supporting cast. Cook it in a spicy, twisted original story, garnish it with technical wizardry and serve hot, real hot.
What you get is India's definitive cop caper.
The Story: Dreaded ISI Agent Iqbal Ansari (Atul Kulkarni) has to be transferred from Chandangadh to Mumbai to stand trial. But with terrorists out to free him en route, escorting him becomes a dangerous mission that is entrusted to a team of cops headed by ACP Anant Srivastava.(Amitabh Bachchan).
Srivastava is an underperfoming cop whose honesty and adherence to rules has landed him lower in the police hierarchy than he deserves. He considers this dangerous, yet high profile, project his chance to make it to the big league.
His team consists of two principal characters: Senior Inspector Shekhar Verma (Akshay Kumar), an ambitious, flirtatious, crooked cop who has put his conscience on the backburner in the race to make a quick buck. And Sub Inspector Ashwin Apte (Tusshar Kapoor), a wide-eyed new kid on the block determined not to sell out.
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Circumstances make Mahalaxmi (Aishwarya Rai), a social worker, become a part of their group. Then follows a nightmarish journey in which they cross paths with death, betrayal, their inner demons and, above all, an enemy one step ahead of them. No one will come out unscathed.
Paisa Vasool: The strongest points of the movie are its story and its performances. The story moves like an electric eel, giving the audience varying degrees of shock with each twist, some predictable, some not at all. Unlike many movies, the story maintains its grip right through to a crackerjack ending.
Now for performances. Amitabh Bachchan. The name is enough. Whether it be the sad, disillusioned father in Baghban, the diabolic puppet-master in Aankhen or the conflicted cop in Khakee, the man's other name is versatility. Here, his eyes initially carry the dolorousness of a caged lion whose ferocity has been tamed by repeated shocks from the trainer's cattle prod; bureaucracy and time have indeed mellowed the angry young man of Zanjeer.
But as the story progresses, he undergoes a transformation. His suppressed anger at the corruption around him bursts through his eyes, expressions, voice and actions. Sometimes, it does get a bit theatrical but overall it is a command performance.
Akshay Kumar sizzles in his scenes of confrontation with the Big B and exudes an easy charm. Ash looks sweet and Tusshar Kapoor with his lost looks fits the character. Ajay Devgan is over-the-top sometimes, but who else in movieland could have carried off his role with such elan and style?
Technically, the movie is top drawer. But this is a Rajkumar Santoshi film: that is expected. The story and performances are something to write home about.
Bheja Fry: Of course, the plot has loopholes. The biggest disappointment is the typical Rajkumar Santoshi trademark of long, moral speeches delivered on corruption, Hindu-Muslim unity and other burning issues of the day. Without being sceptical of the basic goodness of the human heart, I am afraid that this sermonising, albeit in frontbench-thumping style, might not have any effect on a rioting crowd (as it does in the movie). The issues Santoshi brings up are fine; it is just that good moviemaking conveys the message to the audience without the need to poke them in the eye with it.
Last word: A rare Bollywood thriller that combines brains, brawn and heart. Catch it before your 'over enthusiastic' (read sadistic) friends blurt out the ending.