Neha Arts' DEEWANGEE, written-directed by Anees Bazmee, is inspired by the Hollywood flick PRIMAL FEAR (1996; starring Richard Gere and Edward Norton).
Dynamic and successful criminal lawyer Raj Goyal (Akshaye Khanna) thinks he has it all figured out. An idealistic crusader of justice, Raj is equally committed in punishing the guilty as he is in protecting the rights of the innocent.
His involvement in his work is complete, ruling out any inclination of falling in love. But all this changes when he meets Sargam (Urmila Matondkar), a popular singer with several hit albums to her credit.
Through Sargam, Raj comes across Tarang Bharadwaj (Ajay Devgan), a talented musician. Tarang, Sargam's childhood friend and mentor, is a victim of circumstance, caught red-handed at the scene of a brutal and heinous murder.
The victim is music magnate Ashwin Mehta (Vijayendra Ghatge), found dead in his house, with multiple stab wounds. The violent nature of the murder implies a crime of extreme hate and vengeance. Sargam believes in Tarang's innocence and requests Raj to defend him.
Raj and Tarang have nothing in common, but in the course of putting up a strong defense, Raj's investigations bring him close to Tarang. It starts out as an open and shut case about proving his client's innocence, but in order to exonerate his client, Raj must find the real killer.
Before he realizes it, Raj gets entangled in a mystery more dangerous than anyone can imagine. Is Raj successful in solving the mystery?
For the Indian cinegoers, who are starved for some 'hatke' stuff, the story of PRIMAL FEAR offers enough twists and turns to keep their interest alive. An ideal plot for a Bollywood caper. Perhaps, this thought may have flashed across the minds of the makers of DEEWANGEE, which explains why they have adapted the Hollywood flick.
There's no denying that DEEWANGEE is a novel plot well told. The sequence of events and the pace at which the drama unfolds comes as a bolt from the blue. And, at times, the impact is spellbinding.
The first half is full of astonishments. The courtroom scenes, the sequences between Ajay and Akshaye and the ones between Seema Biswas and Ajay (specially the one when Ajay's split personality comes to the fore!), have been handled deftly. The interval point is amongst the highpoints of the film and catches the viewer completely unaware.
The snake-and-ladder game between Ajay and Akshaye subsequently is equally captivating. But there are some loose ends here as well.
The fault lies in the fact that the script (screenplay: Anees Bazmee, Neeraj Pathak, Humayun Mirza) in the latter half is not enough. Once the battle lines are drawn, the goings-on alternate between exciting and not-too-exciting moments.
Some cinematic liberties also surface. In the pre-climax, for instance, Ajay lands up at the show as a co-dancer and soon thereafter, kidnaps Urmila by guising himself as her driver. This looks utterly clich?stuff and may not go well with the viewer. Even the climax is prolonged, with the end giving the feeling that the makers have set aside some scope for a sequel. A conclusion to Ajay's character was the need of the hour!
Another sore point is Ismail Darbar's music, which fails to elevate the goings-on. The tunes are just about okay and how one wishes that a story that had so much to do with music (it depicts a music baron, a pop star and a music composer), had everlasting melodies to offer.
Directorially, Bazmee is in great form. Besides drawing outstanding performances from the two lead men, he leaves a lasting impression in several sequences, like ?
* The sequence when Ajay's split personality comes to the fore (with Seema Biswas first and Akshaye Khanna later).
* The interval point.
* The sequence in the mental asylum when Akshaye accuses Ajay of strangling him.
* Ajay assaulting Tanaz Currim brutally.
On the technical side, Pushan Kripalani's cinematography is eye-filling. The background score is appropriate.
In an enterprise that boasts of two powerful performers ? Ajay and Akshaye ? comparisons are inevitable. But, to be honest, it's difficult to gauge who's better.
Ajay Devgan essays a complex role with utmost ease ? alternating between a simpleton and the shrewd (as part of the split personality!) with ?n. Akshaye Khanna enacts a suave character with terrific understanding, proving yet again that he's amongst the best in the business today.
Urmila Matondkar makes her presence felt in a male-dominated film. Her performance towards the end is praiseworthy. Amongst character artistes, Seema Biswas, Suresh Oberoi and Tanaz Currim are adequate.
On the whole, DEEWANGEE has a novel story with several poignant moments as its USP. A well-made film with a few loose ends nonetheless, it has much to offer as compared to the vendetta fares and mushy love stories being dished out in the garb of entertainment. At the box-office, the impressive cast and the aggressive promotion have resulted in tremendous hype for the film, which in turn should translate into good business, keeping its investors smiling.