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Upperstall Review



Official Site



Hindi, Action, Drama, Thriller, 2009, Color

Charlie & Guddu (both, Shahid Kapoor) are brothers who can't stand the sight of each other. They are as different as chalk and cheese, Charlie lisps while Guddu stammers. One fateful rainy night, their carefully separated lives cross paths. Charlie gets mixed up in a deathly get-rich-quick scheme, while Guddu realizes that the love of his life, Sweety (Priyanka Chopra), has unwittingly put a price on his head. It's a dark comic ride here onwards, as the brothers are sucked into a world of drugs, guns and money. Their lives collide head on with gangsters, rebel soldiers, rogue politicians and crooked cops.In the middle of this crazy adventure, the brothers have to run to protect themselves, their dreams and their love. And most importantly, they realize that all they have is each other...

As Kaminey finally releases 3 days later in Mumbai with even more hype and praise post its release elsewhere in the country, the big question is - does the film live up to expectations? One has to say in the final analysis, sadly no, it does not. In spite of a rocking central act(s) by its lead man and a couple of extremely brilliantly conceived and executed sequences, the film is a letdown. Even more so, coming as it is from a passionate and sensitive filmmaker like Vishal Bhardwaj from whom expectations are always skyhigh.

OK, first things first. No doubt, Kaminey is among the better films one sees in our mainstream cinema today. There's a certain sensibility Vishal Bhardwaj has and even when he goes wrong, his films are better than most. But then this isn't really saying much in a year that has set a new benchmark standard for mediocrity practically every passing week. It has been a year where creative duds like New York and Love Aaj Kal have been hailed as brilliant and what's more, have scored handsomely at the box-office as well.

Yes, Kaminey does have a lot of things in its favour. Vishal has a knack for casting the right actors for the right role and an extremely keen eye for details. One cannot complain about his efficient and enthusiastic ensemble cast, the production design, choice of locations and the look and styling of the film. The film is also aided by some extremely well-written dialogue and some nicely conceived scenes, some great moments of black humour with the interrogation scene with Guddu being undoubtedly the standout sequence in the film.

Where Kaminey fails to score is in its story telling techniques. The film, aims to be one hell of a roller coaster ride, high on energy and there's nothing wrong with that, but sadly, much of this energy seems to go nowhere. The ever roving handheld camera often is in a bigger hurry than the actors to reach places and with much use of the tele-lens combined with hand-held, it ends up looking more chaotic and out of control rather than thought out in terms of narrative flow. The balance between creating a rollercoaster ride yet pacing the camera movements correctly so you go along with the film is missing. So, what this achieves is to detach you from the film as you are forever trying to comprehend what the hell is going on, thus taking away from your involvement from the film. The key to enjoying a film, no matter whatever its genre and style, is being involved. Here’s where Kaminey failed big time for me. Add to this, one felt a lack of the thriller element and a total absence of exciting twists and turns in the plot.

When the film does hold on from this dizzying ride, like the interrogation sequence, it rises by several notches since the scene is well conceived, executed and brilliantly performed and you are given a moment or two to observe things. At the same time, you do feel that if this sort of a more stable approach was used more often in the film and gave you time to think about the events unfolding on screen, you would also realize how little meat the story actually had in spite of the large number of characters and events. So, this was one way of simply moving recklessly and breathlessly without giving one time to think about the story and its shortcomings and without holding on to any of its characters. In addition, a couple of sequences are plain clumsy. The dream sequences of Charlie and his bookie booth are straight out of film students diploma films, which always abound with such 'meaningful' visual metaphors in their films and generally take away from the main storyline of the films. The less said about the unconvincing, creaky back story leading to the brothers' separation, the better.

No problems with the central performance(s) though. Shahid Kapoor has come of age with Kaminey and can truly call himself an actor-star now. He is spot on, keeping the differentiation in characterization of both his roles consistent right through and he carries the entire film on his shoulders, actually raising it a notch or two. Priyanka Chopra, in contrast, is a bit of a letdown and her feisty Marathi Mulgi is a forced act with the effort showing. Our filmmakers should work on a star's strengths and weaknesses to utilize them best as let's be honest, most of our stars are not actors and need careful handling by our filmmakers. This discrepancy shows up even more if they are cast in the midst of truly good actors and this is apparent with Priyanka in Kaminey. But rather than put the blame on her, one would say this is a rare cast of miscasting by Bhardwaj and maybe done to increase the marketability of the film. The supporting cast is full of fine actors, all of who do their bit efficiently and seem to be enjoying themselves but again get lost in the heady pace and overall dizzy scheme of the film. They appear well-fleshed out on paper but since every sequence hardly ever spends time with them or shoots them at some weird angles, you don't really get a complete characterization of many of them. And, it has to be said there's a limit to having one demented character after another in the film, a typical case of stereotyping our underworld characters.

Musically, Dan Ta Nan works better on the soundtrack than in the film as do the other songs. The editing is uneven and has an edge of desperation to bring simulated life and layering to the film like the flash back sequences intercut with Charlie's dream sequence. With what one could see and comprehend within the camera's chaotic movements, the film seems to have utilised real locations aptly while ably capturing the underbelly of Mumbai as well.

All in all, one heck of a disorienting ride, which when you think back on later, you realize a disappointing one at that.

Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan





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