The Hindi film industry's fixation with gangster movies continues. Right from DEEWAAR, DHARMATMA, DAYAVAN, ANGAAR, PARINDA, AGNEEPATH, SATYA, COMPANY, VAASTAV, BLACK FRIDAY, GANGSTER, D, SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA to the recent ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI, the city's sleazy underbelly has been depicted most convincingly in these films. Just makes me wonder at times, how much will film-makers milk a genre? But, I guess, every film-maker has his/her distinctive approach of narrating a story. Also, it all boils down to how taut the written material is.
Unlike some of the names I mentioned above, BHINDI BAAZAAR INC. doesn't really open the X-files of the disreputable and tarnished, but it makes you revisit the dark alleys where shady men execute shady deals. The game of one-upmanship, the power-hungry gangsters, the scene of carnage and massacre ... BHINDI BAAZAAR INC. packs just about everything that we've come to correlate with gangster movies. Yet, what keeps you absorbed is its engaging screenplay [Ghalib Asad Bhopali] and of course, some nail-biting moments.
Director Ankush Bhatt equates the games gangsters play with a game of chess and that's what sets it apart. The story is narrated in episodes and though, at first, you don't really comprehend the goings on, you gradually start getting a hang of proceedings as you get acquainted with that world and those sundry characters. Let me add, however, that BHINDI BAAZAAR INC. isn't for the faint-hearted or lily-livered. In this story, the human life is cheaper than perhaps a bottle of beer, the spoken language is acidic and at the same time loaded with expletives and the games gangsters and their women play is scandalous and contemptible. You need a strong stomach to absorb this one!
So does it belong to 'watchable gangster flick'? Yes and no! Yes, because it's gritty, hard-hitting and bold. No, because the director knows not where to stop. A more concise version would've only enhanced the impact.
Mamu is the title of the mafia-head of Bhindi Baazaar. Years ago, the reigning Mamu [Pavan Malhotra] snatched it from someone and may be someone has to do the same to be the next Mamu, but you never know who it will be.
The film begins with a game of chess between Shroff [Kay Kay] and Tez [Gautham], each move of which unfolds the story. It starts with Fateh [Prashant Narayanan] and Tez getting enrolled in Mamu's gang. How Fateh backstabs Mamu and grabs the title [Mamu] is the crux of the story. But the journey from a small-time crook to Mamu isn't easy. Betrayals, deceits, treachery and vengeance are a part of this expedition.
Strangely, BHINDI BAAZAAR INC. brings back memories of ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI, which also spoke of the chela overpowering the guru in a game of power-play. The setting and characters are as real as real can be and that's what makes the proceedings watchable. But the film stagnates towards the post-interval portions, more so towards the finale. Ideally, [*spoiler alert*] the film should've ended the moment Gautham becomes Mamu. Bluntly put, the subsequent portions are redundant. Also, the Jackie Shroff track is far from convincing.
Ram Shreyas Rao and Viraj Singh's cinematography captures the atmosphere well. Though there's no scope for music, the titillating song in the bar is well choreographed.
Director Ankush Bhatt has executed the plot well and the writing has the power to engage and alarm you consistently. Besides, the choice of actors is most appropriate. Kay Kay is a seasoned player and he gets it right yet again. Pavan Malhotra is first-rate. Prashant Narayanan is natural and the scene stealer. Newcomer Gautham springs a pleasant surprise with a supremely confident performance.
Deepti Naval is wonderfully restrained. Vedita Pratap Singh is excellent. Piyush Mishra pitches in a power-packed performance, as always. Shilpa Shukla doesn't get much scope. Shweta Varma is wonderful. Jackie Shroff is wasted. The actor playing the role of the corrupt cop is first-rate.
On the whole, BHINDI BAAZAAR INC. doesn't offer anything novel in this beaten-to-death genre. But it makes for a compelling watch due to several nail-biting moments.