Ab Tak Chhappan 2 is so terribly obvious in its deviousness, there’s not even a smidgen of surprise to expect, says Sukanya Verma.
There’s an attractive unpredictability to Nana Patekar’s contemplations on celluloid.
It adds to his edge, calm and madness, or should I simply say -- range.
A decade ago, when he played encounter specialist Sadhu Agashe in Shimit Amin’s slick Ab Tak Chhappan for the first time, he realised this virtue to its fullest potential revealing a refined facet of his real, rough persona.
At 64, he steps into the maverick cop’s shoes for a sequel, helmed by stunt director Aejaz Gulab, relying on his instincts to ginger up an unexceptional script.
I don’t doubt Gulab’s regard for the original (what with all the sambar references) but he’s completely out of his league as far as its run-of-the-mill follow up is concerned.
Gone is the crisp pace, the gritty gyaan, the deadpan violence, the crucial parallels of a cop’s personal and professional extremes that distinguished Ab Tak Chhappan from other films of its genre, an approach seen as recent as Rani Mukerji’s Mardaani. This one’s full of muted expletives, a crummy reproduction of the cat-and-mouse phone calls between cop and crook, cheap production values and crotch-obsessed low camera angles.
Gulab labours to establish the need for Agashe’s comeback -- the first 15 minutes of the sequel are dedicated to convincing the Goa-retired vigilante how his return is the only way Mumbai’s police force can save face and curb down increasing crime rates.
Agashe, I don’t blame him, is comfortable around his blissfully bucolic setting -- frying fish in an open air kitchen, playing marbles with local kids, paddling a boat in unpolluted waters and slicing off fibrous coconuts for tender malai. He’s a lot more sociable around his son Aman (same kid all grown up, Tanmay Jahagirdar) now; they bond over piano and omelettes in indifferently written scenes.
It takes just a tame ‘my dad is a cop not fisherman’ prodding from Aman to propel Agashe back in business and hunt down baddies (Chetan Hansraj) in buffalo sheds and hospital wards. This time a surly Ashutosh Rana fills in for Yashpal Sharma’s jealous junior while wheelchair-bound Raj Zutshi is at the receiving end of Patekar’s telephonic barbs. They’re the comic relief in this drivel.
Gul Panag plays a bespectacled crime reporter in blue shirts, jeans and smoky eyes -- it’s the most uniform aspect of her performance.
Dilip Prabhavalkar and Vikram Gokhale round up as khaki-clad politicians.
You know where this is going already, don’t you? Sadly, Ab Tak Chhappan 2 is so terribly obvious in its deviousness, there’s not even a smidgen of surprise to expect.
Nana Patekar tries to hold it all together with an alacrity and prudence that deserves a Denzel Washington framework. Keeping his head high is the best he can do in the face of predictable easy targets and turncoats.
It’s time to stop keeping score.