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Upperstall Review


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Hindi, Comedy, 2005, Color

Roy (Abhishek Bachchan) is a professional conman in love for Simmi (Priyanka Chopra) who believes in truth and honesty. Roy can’t bring himself to tell her the reality of who he is. But at their engagement party when she finds out the truth, she breaks off the engagement. Enter Aditya ‘Dittu’ Srivastava (Riteish). He is the counterpoint to everything that Roy is - as frantic as Roy is calm, as dumb as Roy is smart, as untidy, as Roy is smooth. They have only one thing in common- Dittu is a conman too. In Roy’s book, he’s an embarrassment, but one that won’t go away. Meanwhile Roy finds out he ahs a brain tumour and only three months to live. Despite himself, or maybe to take his mind off Simmi, he agrees to teach Dittu the rules of the game. In that process, he melts & warms up to the boyish charm of his ‘student’. Dittu wants revenge on powerful shark and hotel owner Chandru (Nana Patekar) who had cheated his father and pushed him into insanity. Roy and Dittu decide to pull the mother of all cons over Chandru…

For all its style, some wonderful use of Mumbai locations, witty dialogue and above all, a scene stealing performance by Nana Patekar, Bluffmaster fails to impress. A flimsy thin plot and an unconvincing ‘twist’ finale bog down this second film of Rohan Sippy clearly ‘inspired’ by films like The Sting and Matchstick Men.

The film does have its moments but they are few. The credit card con and the income tax con work in their own way. The dialogues in the film are sparkling and clever - especially the sequence where Roy uses the metaphor of various Mumbai fish in describing the various types of ‘victims’ there are in the city. The cityscape is used well and imaginatively in the film.

On the flip side, the climax (Matchstick Men like) where the filmmaker tries to be the biggest ‘bluffmaster’ of all is where the film really falls flat on its face trying to be too clever. While it was an interesting thought, its final unfolding is totally unbelievable and rather than enjoy being taken for a ride (Jewel Thief (1967) for instance), you actually feel the filmmaker thinks his audience is stupid enough to buy anything. While he has tried to work logically backwards to lead to this climax – when you think about it Roy has his blackouts in Dittu’s presence only or Priyanka is everywhere that Roy is as he keeps banging into her, it is still more of a gimmick gone wrong rather then anything else.

The other totally no-no portion of the film is the romantic pairing that doesn’t really work because the romantic scenes of Roy trying to win Simmi back are pedestrian to say the last and there is a total lack of chemistry between Abhishek and Priyanka. The plot too is full of inconsistencies. For all his sophistication and being the biggest conman of all, Roy hasn’t even heard of Chandru. Surely he would know who’s who among the rich and powerful of Mumbai.

Coming to the performances, Abhishek Bachchan is reliably efficient and suave in the title role but just lacks that extra spark to rise above the script and take the film that one rung higher. While Abhishek has tasted success following the success of Dhoom and Bunty Aur Babli and the high level of confidence and a strong screen presence are very much there in place, performance wise be it Bunty Aur Babli or Dus or Sarkar while being more than adequate, he has subsequently been unable to match the level of his intense, searing act in Yuva. Admittedly in Bluffmaster the roles of Dittu and Chandru play to the gallery much more than Bachchan Jr’s title role but still…Priyanka Chopra as the straightforward good, working girl barely has anything to do. Boman Irani in spite of a couple of inspired moments is under utilized while Riteish is not bad having his comic moments. However, the film is effortlessly stolen by Nana Patekar. Though essaying yet another psychotic criminal role, Patekar is hilarious making full use of the wonderful dialogues given to him. The scene where he worships himself as part of his daily puja routine is a scream and Patekar carries it off with élan as only he can.

On the technical side, special mention must be made of Himman Dhamija’s camerawork capturing Mumbai locales beautifully. Editing could have been sharper and is even clumsy at places. The first half particularly tends to snag at places. The music works best in the use of remixed tracks particularly the Sabse Bada Rupaiya track. Thankfully the lengths of the songs are kept to bearable lengths unlike most films of today which unbearably go on for 6 minutes plus.

All in all Bluffmaster is strictly just about an average film that leaves you disappointed as one expected far more from the film considering the talent involved.


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