Sunday, April 30, 2006

Gangster - A Love Story

I was a bit skeptical about Gangster…even though Raja Sen and Taran Adarsh had given the movie great reviews! How far could I trust those reviews; after all Raja Sen liked Paheli and Taran Adarsh likes anything and everything that releases every Friday! And the last time I tried watching an Emraan Hashmi movie (Murder), I couldn’t stand the torture and left the theater sometime after the interval! But I decided to watch Gangster- A Love Story anyway…the soundtrack rocked and I was curious about Shiney Ahuja! And I’m happy to say, Taran Adarsh wasn’t kidding this time!

Gangster is a violent film and it’s a love triangle…well, almost! The subject is pretty complex, and as far as my knowledge of Hindi movies go, never been explored before. Kudos to Anurag Basu for attempting something totally different and not ruining the film by resorting to usual Hindi movie clichés!

The main protagonist is Simran (newcomer Kangana Ranaut); it’s through her eyes we see the story unfold. She is a mysterious woman, living alone in Seoul, has a wardrobe of rather revealing outfits and is a hopeless alcoholic, desperately seeking out the last drops of whiskey from discarded bottles in a garbage bin! Her only friend in an alien city is Akash (Emraan Hashmi) who’s a crooner in an Indian restaurant (he calls it the “club”). Akash is clearly besotted with Simran, tries to protect her from self-destruction and in general keeping her out of trouble when she falls into the deep abyss of alcoholism and depression. On a particularly rough night, Simran lands up at Akash’s pad (which has a precarious terrace with incredible views) and confesses her story. A Mumbai bar dancer, she fell in love with Daya (Shiney Ahuja), a Chhota Rajan/Abu Salem’esque gangster. Her presence in his life softened Daya, a hardcore criminal who guns down people in cold blood everyday. Daya’s mentor Khan (Gulshan Grover, in a special appearance with the best dialogues) tries to warn him of the consequences, but he turns against his own gang in order to protect Simran. They even try to live like a regular family for a while, but Daya’s shadow catches up with him and after a tragic encounter with the cops, Daya has to flee the country. Simran ends up in far-away Seoul, safe but lonely, spending her day and night in an alcoholic haze waiting for Daya’s phone call. Akash’s gentle insistence and her own growing loneliness lead Simran into Akash’s arms where she finally finds the happiness and peace that has been eluding her. But her bliss is short-lived, because Daya shows up on her door-step and in a fit of jealous rage, beats the pulp out of Akash. Simran, now pregnant with Akash’s child has to make a choice between the two men in her life.

From here the story takes quite a few unexpected turns which leave you slack-jawed, and it ends in the most unpredictable but befitting way. Anurag Basu never loses control over his story telling, keeping the pace tight all through. I’d be nit-picking trying to criticize the film, but I wish the director had taken care in some areas. There are some glaring continuity glitches…Simran starts walking wearing black boots, which mysteriously becomes black stilettos! Also during a very crucial and poignant scene, a huge billboard flashing LG logo was extremely distracting! The dialogues sometime sound very forced.

Kangana Ranaut is a lucky girl to have gotten a chance to play a character as complex as Simran in her very first movie. She’s hauntingly beautiful, with unusual hair and sad eyes. Playing an alcoholic is not an easy job; even seasoned actors tend to over do the drunken mannerisms. Kangana adds subtle nuances to her character, never over-doing anything! I found her dialogue delivery slightly weak…getting an experienced voice-over artiste to dub for her may have added more zing to the role. But over all a very impressive debut, I must admit!

What do I say about Emraan Smooch-me, oops, Hashmi? Every time he opened his mouth, crowds in the theater broke into peals of laughter, even though what he was saying wasn’t even remotely funny!! He plays the lover-boy crooner with great panache; gets to kiss the girl, make out on a bed of brilliantly hued autumn leaves and lip-sync some really great songs. But when it came to dramatics, he fell really short…he made an ass off himself in the confrontation scene at the Indian Embassy! I read somewhere that this was his last smooching role…he’s tying the knot and won’t be kissing any other girl. Hmmm…wonder if people would pay money to watch his movies anymore?!

I said right in the beginning that I was really curious about Shiney Ahuja. I haven’t had a chance to watch any of his previous films. (Note to self: Rent Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi ASAP) He was simply amazing. His Daya is reticent, relying mainly on his eyes and facial expression to convey his rage, passion and pain, and does a superb job. Daya’s character is mostly bereft of dialogues, and when he has things to say, it comes out a bit shy and awkward…things that a cold-blooded murderer is not used to saying. He disgraces himself by bawling on his girl-friend’s lap and in the very next moment reverts back to his take-charge macho self while fleeing from the police. Shiney Ahuja is definitely one of the best actors to hit the marquee in recent times. Of course it helps to look like a dream boat too…wearing a beret and a scruffy work shirt, he looked more like Italian Mafioso straight out of Godfather!

The Gangster soundtrack totally rocks. Pritam has done a great job with the back-ground score too. The songs pop up at the right places in the film, taking the story forward. I’m particularly addicted to Bheegi Bheegi and Ya Ali, even though the latter’s choreography was a bit of a let down. There I go nit-picking again!!!

Over all Gangster- A Love Story is a good movie; different from the usual Bollywood fare. Go watch it!

3 comments:

Mr Hobo said...

good review ... i think i might want to start watching bollywood movies now

Patient Portnoy said...

Hi Nautilus

Great review. What a coincidence! I've posted on Gangster too, though it's not a review.

I became sentimental on a song. You know Bheegi Bheegi is a copy of a fantastic Bengali rock ballad. Though I shouldn't say 'copy', Pritam took it in a fair manner

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