Prisoners With Conscience And Music
Kishen, a lad with only music on his mind crosses path with the law and is jailed for the murder of an IAS officer. He hears about a jail band contest and offers his services to the lady from the NGO. At Lucknow Central prison, he finds a tailor, an engineer, a key maker and a procurer to make a fake band and makes a plan to escape. The jailor though is always one step ahead of them. The story of their great escape is a decent watch because of the supporting cast.
Farhan Akhtar does not seem to get out of ‘singer’ role, whether he is a ‘has been’ or is a ‘Rockstar’. In this film he plays Kishen, a lad who writes songs and wants to record them and become famous. His dad (a very affable Robin Das) encourages him. Kishen records his music with the help of his friends, on a CD and decides to take it to a famous singer Manoj Tiwari (who plays himself). In his enthusiasm to hand the CD to the famous man, Kishen’s CD is stomped upon by an IAS officer. Kishen threatens him, and of course when the officer is killed, he is caught and jailed by the cops.
Kishen is transferred to the high security prison, where he hears about the contest of the Jail Bands. The lady who helps him is Gayatri Kashyap (Diana Penty, hair not out place is mostly expressionless) who works to rehabilitate the prisoners. The Jailor (as always, played with a brilliant mean streak by Ronit Roy) hates anything that lessens his stern rule over criminals. The Chief Minister is Ravi Kishan who is delightful and thwarts all the manipulations of the cops to stop his plans of having a prison band contest.
This brings us to the band. How Farhan’s simple singer manages to figure out where all the guns and patrol cops are located and where the electrical switches as though he were James Bond is not explained. How he manages to find out which prisoner is good at what skill is a puzzle too. But we suspend our disbelief and watch Farhan survive bullying by the prison heavy Tilakdhari (a scary Manav Vij), and collect his crew, both for the band and the escape. Deepak Dobriyal, Imamulhaq, Rajesh Sharma and Gippy Grewal are a motley crew, and it’s a miracle they manage to crack a tune.
The bonding between the criminals pays off, but the jailor gets madder and madder. Especially when the IG Police (Virendra Saxena) agrees to let each band member go for a little while on parole. Implausible, because they know these prisoners (killers all) are never going to come back to a high security prison on their own. But you watch as they do and see the dream come true. They are a band in the true sense of the word. Unlike the recently released Qaidi Band, this film is grittier and thankfully fewer songs. The young heroine was the saving grace in Qaidi Band, but here, the band members are great characters. Each vicious and yet vulnerable. The feel of the film is gritty and grimy, the hero is limited by his acting chops and strange scraped by sandpaper speaking voice, you like all the characters on screen. You smile at the cops who can be bribed easily, cops who bet money on the band, the friend who betrays, the heavy in the prison… The empathy quotient is greater than the implausible liberties taken in the script. A decent watch.
P.S.: Why does Farhan Akhtar want to play a non-urban person? Nothing in his demeanor or speech says that he’s someone who would pronounce ‘zero’ as ‘jero’, especially because he says, ‘Zindagi’ and ‘Manzil’ correctly in the Rangdari song! He’s more Krish than Kishen. Sigh!
(this review sans the postscript appears on nowrunning dot com)