The 1972 feature Koshish was a landmark in Bollywood as Gulzar gave us one of the first movies where both the protagonists were differently abled. Sanjeev Kumar, in a role of a lifetime along with Jaya Bhaduri played a deaf and dumb couple in a desensitized society trying to lead a normal life. Trailing a blaze in an action heavy Bollywood of the 70s and winning 2 national awards, this movie serves as a benchmark for future movies dealing with a certain disability. Skip to the present day and Sanjay Gupta tries to marry the age old story of revenge and retribution with a mawkishly pity inducing story of an innocent blind couple trying to start a life together. Sanjay Gupta is the same man who remade Reservoir Dogs for Bollywood but famously included the botched heist scene, which Quentin Tarantino had intentionally avoided in the original to keep the focus on the unraveling of the wolf in the pack rather than drift the focus on the logistics of a robbery. Kaante was a decent watch no doubt, with all its machismo and rugged adrenaline infested sequences. In Kaabil too, Sanjay seems to be at home while directing the second half when our hero is cornered and revenge is the only denouement. But it does not make up for the sappy and occasionally kitschy scenes in the first half, none more cringeworthy than a wedding night sequence where the couple talk about feeling each other even if they can’t see.
For any revenge drama to succeed, the prerequisite is to make the leads extremely endearing and establish a strong motive behind the actions. Director Sanjay Gupta tries so hard in the first half to make us feel for the couple that it drags beyond acceptable limits. Another huge failing of the movie is the inclusion of mediocre song and dance routines in moments which could have been better left tender. Indian directors still do not know when to move from one sequence to other without forcing a song to accentuate everything in prose and rhythmic dancing. That aside, the trailer of the movie had made it clear beforehand that this one is a revenge saga and the leading lady is the quintessential damsel in distress. Yami Gautam looks stunning in the movie, but as an audience we foresee what’s coming as soon as the lecherous eyes of Rohit Roy gaze her. From then on, this movie plays out as a game we like to call “spot-the-incoming-cliché-from-a-distance”. From corrupt policemen to lewd local goons and political arm twisting, Sanjay Gupta introduces them one after another, gathering enough steam for the final act of pure vengeance. In fact, more than the dirty gaze of the villain, I was appalled by the focus on the husband’s despair more than the victim herself! Even Supriya (Yami) utters dialogues like “Main samajh sakti hoon ki main ab tumhare liye pehle jaise nahi rahi” (I can understand that I am damaged beyond repair for you now) even though she had to go through the harrowing ordeal of a rape! Are you kidding me! Some poor writing there, focusing on the protagonist’s drive for killing rather than general compassion for the outraged woman.
Hrithik Roshan salvages the movie from becoming an outright drag. His filmography includes two other roles where he played a differently abled man, in Guzaarish and in Koi Mil Gaya. This one started to meander towards the average, mostly due to some shabby dialogue writing, but Hrithik’s honesty and his character’s heartbreak which moulded into resolve during the second half alleviates the movie. Hrithik’s transition from a helpless husband to a ruthless killer makes you sit up and take notice. At the half way stage, you brace yourself to watch a well executed revenge saga a la Kill Bill or a Badlapur. Alas, the director makes it comically convenient for Rohan (Hrithik) to use his voice dubbing chops to get to the perpetrators smoothly enough. Ronit Roy is menacing in the role of an influential politician and delivers some intense threats to almost all in his sight. I waited for the final act from the moment Madhavrao Shellar (Ronit) enters the frame, anticipating a battle of wits versus power, but most of the time in Bollywood, expectation, even if very basic is crushed by a visionless director and loose script. The digital inserts during a few of the scenes was also distracting, giving the movie a fake green screen look. Directors need to understand that good lighting and impeccable camera work does not take precedence to a natural set up all the time. Specially in a movie like this, a few dark frames could have gone well to establish contrast in the fortunes of the lead pair.
All in all, this is just an average film which got unusual amount of press due to its high profile clash with Raees, which we already warned you against in our review yesterday. Hrithik can act, period. But with scripts like this and a director who apparently went for the concept more than the execution, we are still awaiting an out and out acclaimed box office blockbuster.
gobblepoint: With an absolute focus on Hrithik, director Sanjay Gupta makes a movie with two differently paced halves. Still, a revenge drama is any day an enjoyable ride. If you could ignore the glaring loopholes and below par writing, this can be an average fun movie.
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