It requires guts to make a film that defies stereotype.
It requires courage to attempt a genre that's alien for Bollywood.
It requires a fertile mind to constantly think of ideas to entertain the common man, who's thirsting for a film with substance?
Director Sanjay Gupta merges form and content beautifully in KAANTE and the effort needs to be lauded and appreciated. But the vital question here is, does KAANTE meet the tremendous expectations? Yes, it does!
KAANTE, directed by Sanjay Gupta, is the most keenly-awaited film. And rightly so!
It boasts of an impressive cast.
It has been shot in the U.S. in entirety.
It has technicians from Hollywood ? right from cinematography to stunt co-ordinators to music supervisor.
And most importantly, it comes at a time when the cinegoers have been left high and dry by the supposedly gigantic films released this year.
Kill, threaten, kidnap, maim, murder, steal? Meet the masters.
In a world where loyalties are easily abandoned and allegiances bought, six perfect strangers come together to pull off the perfect crime.
To get the job done, they must all do what they have never done before ? trust each other. But when their simple robbery explodes into a bloody ambush, the ruthless killers realize that one of them is a cop. But which one?
Inspired by the Hollywood flick RESERVOIR DOGS, KAANTE has its weak moments, but the strong ones, in plenty, camouflage the loose ends.
The start of the film sends out clear signals that Gupta wants to deviate from the run-of-the-mill, hackneyed way of telling the story. The interpretation is very contemporary, very Hollywoodish.
But as it moves ahead, the narrative vacillates between engrossing and not-too-captivating moments. It also gets talk-heavy at times.
From the script point of view, the film fumbles in the first part. Let's look at it minutely ?
In the first place, why the cops zero in on at least four characters (Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Sunil Shetty and Kumar Gaurav) is not explained. Nor is there any reference that these four have had a criminal past.
Moreover, the six go ahead with their plans to rob the bank in the most unconvincing fashion. From firing gun shots in open air on a high rise, to playing with gas bombs, to charting out the course to perform the robbery ? everything gives the impression of being so easy.
But the first part has its share of thrilling moments as well. Their coming together at a night club, for instance, is very well executed. Ditto for some crass moments, courtesy Mahesh Manjrekar, especially the one when he's with some shady characters, discussing his drug deal. But the best part is when the cops interrogate the six ? mainly Dutt and Manjrekar ? at the very outset.
On the script level, the screenplay writers [Gupta and Yash-Vinay] should've worked minutely on the bank robbery issue. In the recent past, AANKHEN also had sequences when the protagonists visit a bank and study everything very, very minutely. In this case, it's done with a few close ups inside the bank, making one wonder whether if it's child's play to carry out a bank robbery in Los Angeles.
The interval point is striking and does raise expectations for a better second part. And the tables turn for the better in the post-interval portions.
Soon after the job is carried out and the six start trickling at their hideout, the sequences thereafter have razor edge sharpness and manage to keep you on the edge.
The sequences between Bachchan and Manjrekar, also between Dutt and Manjrekar and Manjrekar's angry outburst thereafter, are fabulously executed. Ditto for the sequence when the six 'interrogate' the captured L.A. cop to find out who in their squad is an undercover cop.
The fight between Dutt and Shetty, when they set out to get the loot, also deserves marks for its execution. Thereafter, Manjrekar's portions with the cop in captivity, which culminates into a blood-soaked climax, is the best part of the film. The identity of the undercover cop is also revealed well and will shock those who aren't aware of it.
Clearly, the second half elevates the enterprise!
Sanjay Gupta deserves distinction marks for giving the film a Hollywood look. Technically speaking, the product is slick ? undeniably the best the Hindi screen has witnessed ever. The look of the film and even the visuals can be compared to the best of Hollywood.
As a director, Gupta takes giant strides and proves that there's more to him than working strictly on visuals. KAANTE should silence his hardcore critics who feel that Gupta's films are body beautiful, but lack soul.
Besides extracting wonderful performances and blending form and content beautifully, more so in the second half, Gupta also deserves all the praise for exhibiting courage to attempt this genre of film-making.
Milap Zaveri's dialogue is another ace. Deviating from the clich?lines/punches, Zaveri comes with lines that are bound to shock the Indian cinegoer (at places), but are in keeping with the mood of the film. Also, at some places, the lines are bound to bring the house down, especially those delivered by Dutt and Manjrekar.
Anand Raaj Anand's music is yet another asset. Though the film does not have much scope for music, the songs are tuneful, have already gained popularity and importantly, come at the right junctures. The erotic 'Mahi Ve' is sure to be a major attraction.
Cinematography [Kurt Brabbee] is first-rate. The look of the film is consistent and can be best described in one word ? brilliant. Stunts [Spiro Rozatos, Simon Gunther, Bhiku Verma] are first-rate. The background score [Gregor Narholz] is exceptional.
It's difficult to pinpoint the best performer in the enterprise. For, every character has been given equal prominence and footage, irrespective of the 'star pull'. Amitabh Bachchan is proficient as ever. He is in complete form towards the second half. Sanjay Dutt shines in a role that seems tailormade for him. Sunil Shetty is superb, conveying a lot through his expressions. In fact, Dutt and Shetty's looks will also be loved by the yuppie crowd.
Kumar Gaurav and Lucky Ali may not have many lines to deliver, but they do make their presence felt. Manjrekar will be loved by the masses ? the unclean look and the crudeness he exudes, will gel well with the viewers.
On the whole, the much-anticipated and much-hyped KAANTE takes a step forward in terms of content and technique. An apt example of progressive cinema that breaks the shackles of stereotype, the film has everything to woo the cinegoer ? an impressive cast, grandiose look, an excellent second half, well executed stunts, popular music and eroticism in plenty ? which will quench the thirst of an Indian cinegoer, thirsting for wholesome entertainment. At the box-office, the film has taken a historic start everywhere and keeping in mind the fact that there's no major opposition in the coming week, it will set new records and reap a harvest at the box-office, bringing the smiles back on the faces of distributors and exhibitors.