An Action Film With Little Action,
A Thriller Without Thrills,
I love John Abraham’s Dimples,
But This Film Is Tedious To The Gills.
A bank cashier is recruited to spy for India, with several reasons to double cross. What could have been an action packed drama seems to be caught in a quagmire of stereotypes and predictability. It is so slow it fails to hold your attention despite a good premise.
They say that in real life, spy stories aren’t dramatic. There are no car chases, nor are there any gun battles. Because undercover spies try their best to remain anonymous. But in a movie where you recruit an action star and make him plod through a boring plot of information gathering, it seems to be gross injustice.
John Abraham plays Romeo (of all the Muslim names that a devout Muslim mother could name her son, she calls him this!) is a plain old cashier at a bank, coming home to his mother who cries a lot and knits sweaters for him (of course it is played by Alka Amin who has played that part in every film). He has a sort of love interest in Mouni Roy, who also works at the bank. His job is boring until one day when a couple of men try to rob the bank. This is when Romeo knocks out one robber and pins down the other. And promptly gets selected for training as a spy.
Jackie Shroff makes for a really cool Srikant Rai, head of RAW. He has a great voice and manages to instil gravitas in a film that seems to be running around in circles. Rajesh Shringarpure as Avasthi, the second in command seems to be there so that Srikant Rai can explain his tactics to someone.
Mouni Roy, who was John Abraham’s colleague at the bank gives us the lamest explanation, ‘You were under my surveillance.’
Now, all trained up, John is naturally sent off to Pakistan where he shows up as Akbar Malik and becomes the right hand man to the baddie there played by Anil George (he’s played the same role before). Akbar is helped by Raghubir Yadav who plays himself but is called Mudassar.
As Akbar, Romeo sends information through a transmitter and the pace of the film drops so much, you could step out of the theater, run errands and come back to see John still taking pictures. But to show that the ‘enemy’ isn’t stupid, they have Sikander Kher show up as a suspicious Colonel Khan. By now you know that none of the actors are at fault. They are all earnest. It’s the lacklustre script and tedious twists that make the film come across as weak.
There are pointless references to aces and jokers in playing cards and a scene where Jackie Shroff catches rain on his face. Instead of telling us why he’s so please with the rains, the camera keeps focussing on a potted plant. You wonder if there’s a listening device in the plant but no…
This film fails to keep your attention, and you don’t care why in his third avatar John is called Walter Khan. Did they not find any ‘Muslim’ names? Where is this going? Of course the Vande Mataram song plays in the end where you are told many such selfless spies do their jobs today, which made some people clap. In these times where propaganda films are all the rage, you sigh and say, ‘Why not!’ and make your way home, glad the film is over.
(the review appears on nowrunning.com)