High on hype, high on substance as well!
That sums up COMPANY, directed by Ramgopal Varma.
One has witnessed underworld sagas since time immemorial. But COMPANY has a new language ï¿½ a language that's even more hard-hitting when compared to its predecessors. And, of course, it's ingenuous as well.
A saga of two friends ï¿½ Malik (Ajay Devgan) and Chandu (Vivek Oberoi) ï¿½ the story travels from the streets of Mumbai to Hong Kong and then Nairobi.
Malik is a trusted lieutenant of an underworld don. He recruits Chandu in the gang when the activities begin to expand. Differences between Malik and his colleagues surface when Malik starts siding Chandu.
Malik decides to take the reins in his hands and together with Chandu, starts running the 'company'. Later, they shift base to Hong Kong and start remote controlling their men from this foreign land.
But a misunderstanding turns the two friends into foes. In a bid to achieve supremacy, they decide to eliminate the other. Malik stays in Hong Kong with his close associates (Manisha Koirala, Ganesh Yadav, Rajpal Yadav), while Chandu shifts to Nairobi.
The dangerous game of death begins!
This is the second time that Varma is attempting a film of this genre, after SATYA, and like his previous attempt, COMPANY also underlines a message that is loud and clear ï¿½ Crime never pays.
The initial reels are easygoing. The storytelling is ordinary and the pace is just about okay. But the film gathers momentum once the two friends decide to run the 'company' together. And the narrative gets even more interesting when the friends turn foes.
The best thing about the film is that it catches you unaware at several paces. Just when you start thinking 'What next?', comes up an incident that wobbles you completely.
The post-interval portions are even more captivating than the first part. This part focuses entirely on the enmity aspect, with subtle doses of emotions attached to the characters so that they don't become one-dimensional.
Ajay's sequences with Manisha and Vivek's with his wife (Antara Mali) and mother (Seema Biswas) subsequently are brilliantly executed. The climax is unconventional, but just right keeping the graph of the film in mind.
Directorially, Varma takes you to a world that is much-discussed and has become a part of our everyday life. One identifies instantly with the goings-on. Picking up incidents from newspaper and television news headlines, the narrative gives the viewer a microscopic view of how the mafia functions.
The director's contribution is visible in several sequences in the film, like ï¿½
* Ajay and Vivek corner their colleagues in the car and shoot them at point blank range;
* The sequence in the Commissioner's (Mohanlal) office, when the Commissioner questions Ajay, Vivek and Akash Khurana soon after the shoot out at a studio;
* The misunderstanding that results in the friendship going kaput and Akash Khurana's murder;
* Ajay's blood-thirsty men entering Vivek's hideout in Nairobi in a bid to eliminate him;
* Manisha and Antara coming face to face in a shopping centre;
* Vivek's telephonic conversation with his mother, wife and brother-in-law from the hospital, where he is undergoing treatment;
* Antara rushing to Hong Kong and the subsequent scene with Ajay and Manisha when she points the gun at Ajay;
* The culmination of Ajay's characterï¿½
If at all the viewer feels slightly letdown, it's on two counts ï¿½
* One, the post-interval portions tend to get a bit too heavy, with no relief in the form of light moments;
* Two, absence of songs in the film. The film boasts of just one song ï¿½ the immensely popular 'Khallas' ï¿½ while the remaining songs form part of the background.
Writer Jaideep Sahni deserves a pat for serialising the occurrences to precision. Sandeep Chowta's background music is first-rate. It enhances the impact of several sequences. Action sequences (Allan Amin) are realistic and are sure to pick an award or two for their skilful execution. Cinematography (Hemant Chaturvedi) is up to the mark.
Ajay Devgan enacts his role to perfection. A controlled performance, the actor takes to this complex character like a fish takes to water. He underplays his part with admirable ease.
Vivek Oberoi surprises you with a performance that is a cut above the rest. He seems to have prepared for the character, bestowing it with finer nuances. The usage of the slum dweller's dialect and the intonations give his character a vividly distinct look. A performance that merits the highest marks!
Mohanlal is excellent as the tough cop. His South Indian accent gels well with his role. His scenes with Vivek Oberoi towards the latter part of the film are refined. Manisha Koirala doesn't have a meaty role, but she expresses herself magnificently through gestures. She looks the part she plays. Antara Mali is superb. Playing a completely deglamourised role, she makes her presence felt in a male-dominated flick.
Seema Biswas is outstanding as Vivek's mother. Akash Khurana is effective. Bharat Dabholkar, Rajpal Yadav, Ganesh Yadav and Vijay Raaz support well.
On the whole, COMPANY is amongst Ramgopal Varma's finest works. A stylishly narrated tale, the film will win plaudits and reap a rich harvest at the box-office for its hard-hitting content.