Sometimes, a 'small-budget' film has more to offer than the 'big-budget' extravaganzas. In the recent past, films like PYAAR KE SIDE/EFFECTS and KHOSLA KA GHOSLA offered better content than some multi-crore ventures starring A-list actors.
DEADLINE - SIRF 24 GHANTE has never been in news. Why, a majority of people might not even be aware of its name, cast or storyline. Expectations are, therefore, zilch. But DEADLINE - SIRF 24 GHANTE surprises you with its gripping story and razor-sharp execution. It's an engaging fare, with life-like performances -- vital factors that make a taut thriller!
Heart surgeon Dr. Viren Goenka [Rajit Kapoor], his wife Sanjana [Konkona Sen Sharma] and their seven-year-old daughter Anishka [Princey Shukla] live in Mumbai. Their joys have just multiplied with Viren being honored with a prestigious award for his contribution to the medical world.
Viren is all set to visit New Delhi to receive this award. He promises to celebrate his daughter's birthday once he returns. But fate has something else planned for Viren and his family: Anishka is kidnapped under Sanjana's nose. She is startled with the presence of a creepy man named Krish [Irrfan Khan] in her house. Krish tells her that Anishka will be fine as long as Sanjana and Dr. Goenka follow his instructions.
While Krish keeps Sanjana in the house, his partner Roohi [Sandhya Mridul] keeps Viren confined in his hotel room and their third associate Kabir [Zakir Hussain] holds Anishka at a remote location. The kidnappers keep strict half-hour checks with each other by cell phones and set the ransom amount at Rs. 3 crores.
It doesn't take much for Viren and Sanjana to realize that abiding by the kidnappers' rules is the best thing that they could do to save their daughter's life. Viren mortgages everything possible, including his dream hospital project and his house, and somehow manages to collect Rs. 3 crores in just 24 hours.
But the kidnappers flee without any signs of their daughter and take away the ransom money as well. Both Sanjana and Viren are uncertain about what could've happened and fear for the life of their beloved daughter. Viren wants his daughter back at any cost and thus, tries to exploit all his resources. The police searches for clues, but there's no breakthrough.
DEADLINE - SIRF 24 GHANTE bears a slight resemblance to the Sanjay Dutt starrer TATHASTU [which, in turn, was inspired by the Hollywood film JOHN Q]. The son of an ordinary man is hospitalized [he has a hole in his heart], the kid has to be operated upon immediately, the father is running short of funds, the doctor demands a fat fee before the operation, the father revolts' In TATHASTU, the father takes the emergency room hostage. In DEADLINE - SIRF 24 GHANTE, the hapless father and his wife along with a companion kidnap the doctor's daughter to teach him a lesson.
Despite the comparisons, DEADLINE - SIRF 24 GHANTE is well treated by director Tanveer Khan, who gets ample help from screenplay-dialogue writer Dilip Shukla, besides the principal cast of the film.
In terms of execution, the second hour of this 12 reeler is far more gripping than the first. Nothing wrong with the first hour as such, but the flashback portions in the second half not only expose a stark reality, but also succeed in driving home a message about the noble profession. On the flip side, the subject material of the film isn't everybody's cup of tea. It caters to a limited audience, especially the multiplexes of big centres.
DEADLINE - SIRF 24 GHANTE is writer Tanveer Khan's second effort at direction [after MADHOSHI] and he shows vast improvement as a storyteller. The story is simple, but the treatment catches your attention. Dilip Shukla's screenplay moves on one track and there are no diversions whatsoever. Perfect. However, Shukla's dialogues give the sequences that extra sheen. Baba Azmi's camerawork is appropriate.
It's difficult to pinpoint any one performance as the best since every character is well etched out. Irrfan Khan is flawless, displaying the rough and soft sides with aplomb. Konkona Sen Sharma excels yet again. Note her outburst when Irrfan offers her a drink or soon after the intermission, someone walks in unannounced and Konkona saves the situation by calling Irrfan a friend. Commendable.
Rajit Kapur amazes as the helpless father. He infuses life in the role of the money-minded doctor. Sandhya Mridul is effortless yet again. Especially noteworthy are the sequences with Rajit. Zakir Hussain is effective in a role that may not be as substantial, but demanded a fine actor nonetheless. Child artiste Princey Shukla looks cute and does an okay job. Rajiv Verma is ordinary.
On the whole, DEADLINE - SIRF 24 GHANTE is a well-made film that holds appeal for the multiplex audience mainly. At the box-office, the lack of aggressive promotion will curtail its prospects to an extent, but a strong word of mouth should go in its favor.