Written by Manisha Lakhe on August 15, 2018
Pyromaniac Vigilante, Hyperventilating Cop
The Audience Facepalms.
The Mumbai police are in a tizzy because a vigilante is slowly killing corrupt cops. The one honest cop has been given the job to find out who it is. We know it is the hero and we are alarmed at the violence on the screen. But after a while, you just want the 80s style violence to be over and scoff at the super cheesy dialog and John Abraham’s gorgeous dimples just stop working for you.
The film opens with Patil in police uniform being burned alive to the tune of Hindu chant of Shiva’s anger. It is John Abraham, in a black hooded jacket, staring sternly at the fire he started. Then we see a cop asking directly for money to be wired to ‘my account’ after an accident should he let the chap who killed a pedestrian go home free. Of course, John Abraham shows up at the cop’s home and burns him too because, ‘Patil ho ya Kadri, sabki ek biradari’ (Whether it is Patil or Kadri, their brotherhood is same: corruption). You gag when you hear such cheesy dialog, but wonder idly why John Abraham is burning these bad guys.
Vikram was Colorful and Wild in Anniyan. This? Not.
It’s a reminder of the 2005 Tamil film Anniyan (which was called Outsider or Stranger in English, Aparichit in Hindi) where an upright man who cannot see injustice wears different masks and metes out justice as seen in the hellfire and damnation part of Hindu scriptures, instilling fear in wrongdoers and winning the hearts of the poor. That film was a hit but at least the weird costumes and the hero with a multiple personality disorder had an excuse for the violence. Here, the live burning of victims is plain ghastly.
Chillao, Aur Chillao! Indians Like LOUD Cinema!
The cops are terrified too, so they ask the Deputy Commissioner of Police Shivansh Rathod to report back to duty from his holiday. Manoj Bajpai, usually a fine actor, hams through a role which could have been played with the same cool as Tom Hanks does in Catch Me If You Can Remember the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio asks Hanks why he’s at work on a holiday? And Hanks, sitting alone in the dark office says, ‘I volunteered’ and asks Leo to talk to him face to face? Well, this film too uses the same sort of situation of an empty office, but we see Manoj Bajpai lose his cool and begin to yell at the vigilante.
The whole film is loud. The background music, the dialog that has the sole purpose of evincing applause from the cheap seats, the misplaced romance between a vet and the killer… And it doesn’t help when the clever DCP figures out that the vigilante is killing cops from marked police stations that are included in the title of the film ‘Satyamev Jayate’ (‘S’ for ‘Santa Cruz’, ‘A’ for ‘Andheri’ and ‘T’ for ‘Thane’ all neighborhoods in Mumbai). You idly speculate what areas is John going to attack next while laughing at the ridiculousness of word play of the third threat: I will enter ‘Thane’ and kill a cop. Now ‘Thane’ or ‘Thana’ is not just a local word for ‘police station, but also a suburb of the city. So while Manoj Bajpai and his cops are on high alert expecting a vigilante to show up, John simply beats up and burns a cop at a gas station in the area called Thane.
How Long Do We Suffer?
Then you realise there are 11 letters left in the title of the film! Are we going to endure 11 more murders? You begin to sink in your seat at the realisation of how thin the plot is, and pray for a twist in the plot. One comes at the Intermission. But everything is downhill after that. The backstory is so ghastly and so pathetically patriotic, you want to be killed by a stray bullet. The corrupt cops are very corrupt (one even has gold teeth made from money from bribes!) and John Abraham is good even when he’s burning up people (we know he’s playing Veer, and he’s extracting revenge for his cop dad unjustly killed).
The film is so boring, during the item song ‘Dilbar Dilbar’ one shot has the belly dancer emerge from the sand and you are reminded of the Graboids in the film Tremors and your laughter is drowned by the deafening sound of the song. The oath of allegiance that cops take during their swearing in ceremony is said so many times, you know you can repeat it verbatim in case you are asked. The film is that tedious. An obvious manipulative release for Independence Day, this film hopes you will want to salute good cops. But you don’t fall for it one bit. And even if you have previously fallen for John Abraham’s dimples, you come away unimpressed with his seething.
(this review appears without subheads on www.nowrunning.com)