Cast: Ajay Devgan, Shreya Saran, Rajat Kapoor, Tabu, Ishita Dutta, Mrinal Jadhav, Kamlesh Sawant,
Director: Nishikant Kamat
Rating: * * *
Runtime: 2 hrs 40 mins
The hit Malayalam film ‘Drishyam’ which top-lined Mohanlal as the ordinary man caught-up in extraordinary circumstances, gave a much needed fill-up to the Malayalam superstar’s fading career. Kamal Hassan tried to recreate the same magic with the recently released Tamil version ‘Paapanasam’ and garnered rave reviews and formidable public adulation. Telugu and Kannada remakes are also ready to rake it in. Now it’s action-comedy star Ajay Devgan’s turn to reap the benefits from the Hindi version in which he plays an ‘unlikely’ hero who uses his head instead of his brawn to get his family out of a sticky situation. Like Aamir Khan (PK) and Salman Khan (Bajrangi Bhaijaan) before him, Ajay Devgan too invokes an image makeover to suit his current fascination for films with a strong script and richer rewards for the audience.
This film is a drama about an ordinary middle class family caught in a situation that could possibly lead one of it’s members to long-term imprisonment. The interesting bit though is the cinema-powered smarts employed by Vijay Salgoankar (Ajay Devgan) to keep his beleaguered family just one-step away from the cops led by indomitable IG Meera Deshmukh (Tabu), who are shown to be closing in on their prime suspects.
The narrative consciously shifts away from proven Bollywood paradigms, preferring to stay realistic and believable for most of it’s runtime. So the standard masala of a Bollywood biggie is missing from the frames. There are no item numbers to distract you and no flashy comedic moments to provide unwelcome relief here. And that in itself is a game-changer for mainstream Bollywood.
Vijay Salgoankar, a cable TV operator who lives with his family including a Wife (Shreya Saran) and two daughters (Ishita Dutta and Mrinal Jadhav) in the interiors of Goa, is outspoken to the extent that he riles a corrupt cop Inspector Gaitonde (Kamlesh Sawant). So it’s only befitting that when an extraordinary incident leads to Vijay and his family’s closed-door investigation it’s Gaitonde, egged on by anxious and grief-stricken IG Meera, who does the dirty work of creating a fear psychosis in order to get them to confess about their crime. But Vijay who is a Hollywood cinema buff, has his and his family’s alibis a little too pat for any untoward unraveling. It’s an interesting face-off between IG Meera and Vijay and the cat-and-mouse game plays on until the concluding moments.
The story line, deployed by Jeetu Joseph, and scripted by Upendra Sidhaye, which owes it’s origins to best-selling Japanese crime-writer Keigo Higashino’s ‘ Devotion of Suspect X’ has it’s fair share of intrigue and interest- but that’s only if you havn’t seen any of the earlier versions. This Nishikant Kamat directed copy, is almost a frame-to-frame regurgitation of the original. While the exposition takes up most of the runtime, not enough is done to shore-up either the set-up or the final revelation. As a result it comes out a little too pat to be justifiable.
Performances are the key here. Ajay Devgan fits in well with his intense and smoldering persona, Mrinal Jadhav and Ishita Dutta are impressive as Salgoankar’s young daughters, Shreya Saran looks pretty and is suitably timid as his wife, Rajat Kapoor is quite suavely underwhelming as the IG’s businessman husband and Tabu works up a groundswell of emotions as the beleaguered IG in search of a clue to her missing son. But the most impressive and sharpest performance comes from Kamlesh Sawant who makes Inspector Gaitonde a Cop to fear!
This is not really a film about family honor, it’s more of a film about human ingenuity. In fact Vijay Salgaonkar’s ingenious use of cinematic smarts to save his family from incarceration highlights his own descent into corruption!