The Ramgopal Varma 'factory' seems to be churning out films with amazing regularity
A few films have won acclaim [BHOOT, EK HASINA THI], while some have been rejected outright [DARNA MANA HAI, MAIN MADHURI DIXIT BANNA CHAHTI HOON]. But the fact cannot be denied that the brand 'RGV' is synonymous with quality cinema. Cinema that dares to defy the stereotype.
RGV's latest film, AB TAK 56, is no exception.
Debutante director Shimit Amin's intentions are sincere to provide an insight into the lives of the cops. Unfortunately, there's been an overdose of films that depict the men in uniform KAGAAR [N. Chandra] and KHAKEE [Rajkumar Santoshi] are two prime examples that come to your mind instantly.
Besides, the handling of the subject matter of AB TAK 56 is different from films of its ilk. It's extremely realistic and looks straight out of life. If that is the USP of the enterprise, it's also a downer considering that the viewer of today is just not interested in watching a docu-drama that's too realistic [at times grim!] and is laced with four letter words and brutal encounters all through.
AB TAK 56 is set in Mumbai and revolves around the Crime Branch of Mumbai Police, set up to weed out the increasing organised crime from the city.
Sadhu Agashe [Nana Patekar] is the leader of this highly competitive and selective team of encounter cops, whose mission is to eradicate crime from Mumbai. During the course of his work, he develops a relationship with India's most wanted Don Zameer [Prasad Purandare].
The strife and resentment continues amongst the officers in the Crime Branch with Imtiyaz Sidiqui [Yashpal Sharma] vying for Sadhu Agashe's position. Equations change for the worst when a new commissioner, Mr. Suchak [Jeeva], favours Imityaz, causing the enmity to rise between them.
Accused of crime, Sadhu Agahse now becomes a fugitive
Debutante director Shimit Amin AB TAK 56 gets a few things right. The setting, the politician-police-underworld nexus, the rivalry amongst officers looks straight out of life. The stressful lives the cops lead have been depicted with utmost precision.
But the problem with AB TAK 56 is that it holds your attention intermittently. While the story doesn't really move in the initial reels, it does gather momentum when the new Commissioner of Police [Jeeva] takes over and a few reels later, Nana's wife [Revathi] gets murdered.
In fact, the first half of the film is extremely slow-paced, gets talk-heavy at times and tests the patience of the viewer.
The story does get interesting in the post-interval portions, but the sequence of events follows the beaten path after a point. The pace gathers momentum yet again when Nana flees the country with the help of the don [Prasad Purandare], who is operating from another country.
Although the pre-climax seems interesting as the top cop interacts with the don, the finale leaves a lot to be desired. A more appropriate ending was needed for sure.
Debutante director Shimit Amin has handled a few sequences with flourish. The media meet of the new Commissioner and the sequence when the Commissioner is introduced to Nana soon after is expertly executed.
Ditto for the sequence when Revathi is murdered during the marriage revelry. In the post-interval portions, the sequence of events that lead to the Commissioner gunning for Nana's head is well treated. As also the sequence when Nana kills the Don minutes before the film comes to a close.
But the genre Shimit Amin has opted for looks less exciting given the fact that there has been an overdose of gangster films in the past [RGV's SATYA and COMPANY stand tall in the list]. From the viewer's point of view, those looking for entertainment are sure to be disappointed, for the film tends to get grim and morbid after a point.
Besides, the generous usage of expletives and the depiction of blood and gore in the film may not appeal to those who believe and swear by feel-good cinema.
The film scores distinction marks in the technical department. Cinematography [Vishal Sinha] is of superior quality. The camera captures the bylanes of Mumbai with as much flourish as it captures the coastline of Mauritius. Dialogues [Sandeep Srivastava] are superb. In fact, they contribute enormously in giving the film a real feel. Salim-Sulaiman's background score is top notch. It's another feather in their cap, after the scintillating score in BHOOT. Action [Parvez Khan] looks straight out of life.
Nana Patekar delivers a flawless performance. In fact, the actor is in form after a long, long time. Prasad Purandare is a revelation. Here's an actor who can deliver if given an opportunity. Another actor who impresses with his performance is Jeeva. His sequences with Nana are electrifying.
Yashpal Sharma is, like always, highly competent. Nakul Vaid is first-rate, making his presence felt with a natural performance. Kunal Vijaykar is wonderful, enacting his part with utmost conviction. Mohan Agashe is adequate in a small role.
Both Revathi and Hrishita Bhatt don't get ample scope, but leave a mark nonetheless.
On the whole, AB TAK 56 is a very Mumbaiya kind of a film that will appeal to a limited number of viewers in Mumbai only. The not-too-aggressive promotion, coupled with the blood and gore depicted in the film, will only go against it.