Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt have often admitted that newspaper headlines citing a burning issue have sown the seeds of a film in their minds. And CROOK, directed by the talented Mohit Suri, deals with one such issue: Racism in Australia. Well, depiction of racism on the Hindi screen isn't entirely new, since I - PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN explored the issue several monsoons ago. In fact, the issue has only got aggravated across the globe post 9/11. A film like CROOK holds a lot of significance also because the plight of Indian students in Australia continues to hit headlines to this day.
Known for high concept films, Bhatt brothers' new outing CROOK, unfortunately, tackles the issue half-heartedly. Sure, you expect more from the Bhatts since the makers of repute are known to call a spade a spade, but the problem with CROOK is that the message doesn't come across strongly. That's because it tries to strike a balance between a love story and the racism issue. In fact, it takes a really long time to catch the bull by the horns [read the racism issue] and when it does, it doesn't leave a stunning impact. In fact, it's all superficial. Also, the Bhatts are synonymous with lilting music in film after film, but unlike their earlier attempts, the music of CROOK lacks the quality to linger in your memory.
In a nutshell, CROOK comes across as a half-hearted effort.
CROOK tells the story of Jai [Emraan Hashmi], who has a knack of getting into trouble. His father was a gangster who wanted to reform, but was killed by the cops. When Jai grows up, Joseph [Gulshan Grover], a friend of his father, sends him to Australia - a land far away from his past.
Almost immediately after landing, Jai meets Suhani [Neha Sharma], an Indian Australian. Her elder brother Samarth [Arjan Bajwa] is convinced that Australians have a one-point agenda to bring Indians down. Jai finds accommodation with a group of youngsters [Mashhoor Amrohi].
Jai knows that if he can make Suhani fall in love with him, he could eventually attain permanent residency by marrying her. Jai also flirts with Nicole, the stripper from a strip club. However, her brother, Russel, is against Indians and attacks them for a reason. Jai had left India to lead a hassle free life, but finds himself in the heart of a racially disturbed city.
Frankly, you expect the writer to come to the point at the very outset. Instead, he tends to focus on the [lackluster] romance between the lead pair, songs and [forced] comedy, while the core issue [racism] takes a complete backseat towards the first hour. The writer ought to know that this one's an issue-based film and the romance-song-comedy routine cannot be the priority. However, the point that both Indians and Australians are racist and both sides need to introspect is indeed novel.
CROOK redeems itself in the second hour, but it has more to do with Mohit Suri's handling of the subject than the subject itself. However, one fails to understand why the Australian guy has a change of heart, when he zeroes on Neha towards the end. There should've been at least one sequence to clear things up. But in this case, no explanations are forthcoming.
There's no denying that Mohit Suri is capable of much more, but the ordinary script doesn't really provide him the wings to fly. Pritam's music is of the run of the mill variety, with 'Chhala' being the pick of the lot.
Emraan Hashmi is competent, giving his all to the role. He looks aggressive when required and expresses helplessness well, when he turns his back on Neha at the interval point. Neha acts very well. The confidence is visible in several sequences. Gulshan Grover is hardly there. Mashhoor Amrohi leaves a mark. Arjan Bajwa is fair. Smilee Suri appears in a cameo. The Australian actors are nice.
On the whole, CROOK has its moments, but they're few and far between. It lacks the power that one associates with an issue-based film.