Monday, July 1, 2013

Ghanchakkar: Trying too hard

Director: Raj Kumar Gupta
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Vidya Balan, Rajesh Sharma, Namit Das

Raj Kumar Gupta, director of the critically acclaimed Aamir (2008) and No one Killed Jessica (2011) fails to stir the box office with his newest venture Ghanchakkar starring unlikely duo Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan. While the film is as much about marital problems as about a bank heist booty gone missing, the only thing that salvages an erratic script and half-baked characterization is the generous dose of black comedy along the lines of Jane Bhi Do Yaaron or Is Raat Ki Koi Subah Nahi.
Sanju (Hashmi) a reluctant robber agrees to pull off a bank heist with two rogues Pundit (Sharma) and Idris (Das) to please his fashion-obsessive, boisterous Punjabi wife Neetu (Vidya) who wants money to live a better life. After the robbery, the trio decides to lie low for three months and let Sanju hide the money. Things take a turn when Sanju loses his memory after an accident and cannot remember where he stashed the loot.
True to its name, the film tries to portray each character’s quirkiness from Neetu’s outrageous sense of fashion to Sanju’s somnolent memory loss and Pundit and Idris’ comic-evil personas. The film’s redemption lies in the way it elicits fun in the most unlikely situations. The robbers wear paper masks of Amitabh Bacchan, Dharmendra and Utpal Dutt to loot the bank, Idris and Sanju discuss TV models on the phone at a crucial moment in the plot; from Neetu’s cooking to phone-calls from Sanju’s mom and the vegetable man on the train, the domestic drama that ensues as Pundit and Das shift into Sanju’s house is a laugh riot at times and downright insipid at others.

With side-splitting performances from Rajesh Sharma and Namit Das, one wonders how much better the film would have fared had the gap between scripting and filming been effectively bridged. The first half is definitely tighter and racier while the film slumps in the second half and jolts to a halt with an abrupt ending.  Although the climax is intended to have the audience linger in the murky aura of black comedy, what remains is a sense of suspicion that in spite of strong lead performances and supporting roles, maybe the movie didn’t get its act right this time. 

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