First things first! If you think that LAKEER signifies the line of control between India and Pakistan, you're mistaken. It's about relationships!
Assembling a mammoth star cast is an arduous task. Justifying each character and extracting wonderful performances from each actor is an achievement by itself. It is all the more significant if you happen to be a first-time director.
Choreographer turned director Ahmed Khan makes an impression in his very first attempt. LAKEER not only boasts of wonderful performances, but is a stylish and superior product in terms of technique.
But Ahmed Khan, the director, falters in the post-interval portions thanks to a mundane and humdrum screenplay by Ahmed Khan, the writer. The second half just doesn't measure up to the expectations generated by the first half of the film.
Arjun Rana [Sunny Deol] is an underworld kingpin, feared by all. The apple of his eye is his brother Karan [Sohail Khan], who uses his brother's rich and famous image to the maximum advantage and always procures what he desires.
On the other hand, Sanju [Suniel Shetty] is a motor mechanic, loved by all. He idolizes Arjun Rana and wants to become like him some day. His love for his brother Saahil [John Abraham] is absolutely unshakable.
Saahil is in love with Bindiya [Nauheed Cyrusi]. And Bindiya happens to be Arjun Rana's sister. LAKEER deals with how circumstances change when relationships cross the forbidden lines?
LAKEER is more of an emotional story than an underworld saga. Ahmed Khan takes his own time to introduce the five important characters in the film, making the viewer restless in the process. But the story gathers momentum midway through the first half, when there is an attempt to eliminate Sunny.
Thereafter, two vital sequences -- Sohail and Apoorva confronting John in the campus as also Suniel thrashing Sohail in the college, mistaking him to be Apoorva -- only succeed in increasing the curiosity value towards the film. And as the film reaches the interval point, the viewer is already hooked and looks forward to an exhilarating second half to unfold.
Regrettably, the story does an about-turn in this half. For, one expects Sunny to swing into action, but the story changes gears and develops into a love triangle, with both Sohail and John vying for Nauheed's love. The graph of the film continues to fall since the love triangle just doesn't evoke the feelings in the viewer.
LAKEER picks up again towards the finale, when Sohail picks up a gun in a fit of rage. His transformation from a person who cannot express his love to a person obsessed with the girl he loves, has been handled remarkably. But the sequence thereafter, when Sunny explains his point of view, gets cumbersome and talk-heavy. In fact, the sequence [more of sermonizing!] gives the viewer an impression that it was a deliberate attempt to enhance Sunny's stature, making him look the most important character in this multi-hero flick.
LAKEER boasts of some brilliantly executed sequences and those clearly indicate that Ahmed Khan is an accomplished technician. Not once do you get the impression that the film has been directed by a first-timer. But Ahmed needs to brush up his writing skills. The film depicts the fight between two good sides [there's no good versus evil thankfully!] and that's what keeps the audience interest alive in the first half. But the script in the post-interval portions compel you to think that the writer cum director must've either got confused or perhaps, he just wanted to play safe by opting for clich?situations.
When a film boasts of a musical score by A.R. Rahman, it is only natural to expect a chartbuster. The maestro has given us immense reason to believe that he is capable of the very best. But going by Rahman standards, the music of LAKEER is plain mediocre. 'Nachle', 'Paigaam' and 'Shezaade' are the three tracks you can single out, though they are no patch on Rahman's earlier tunes. However, they do get a boost due to the superb picturizations. All said, LAKEER is low on melody, but high on style.
Johny Lal's cinematography captures the mood of the film with utmost precision. This is amongst Johny's finest works to date. Mehboob's dialogues are well worded at times, but oft-repeated at places. The background score [Aadesh Shrivastava] is excellent. Action scenes [Abbas Ali Moghul] are top class.
It's after a long time that you find Sunny Deol keeping you engaged with his performance. The actor enacts his part with such perfection that you wonder why was he so indifferent in his last few films. Suniel Shetty looks dashing in a new look and comes up with an equally convincing performance, although he really doesn't get the best of lines.
Sohail Khan is a revelation. The film rests on Sohail and John's shoulders and Sohail underplays it with flourish. His sequences with John especially only indicate his growth as an actor. John Abraham has to convey so much through facial expressions and he does it like a seasoned performer.
Nauheed Cyrusi is first-rate. The actress was awkward in her earlier films [SUPARI, INTEHA], but she more than rises to the occasion this time around. Despite sharing the screen space with much more experienced actors, Nauheed stands out with an uninhibited performance in this male-dominated flick.
Apoorva Agnihotri leaves a strong impression in a negative role. Vrajesh Hirjee, Hemant Birje and Avtar Gill are adequate.
On the whole, LAKEER has a good first half, but an insipid second half. Given the impressive face-value and vibrant action, it might appeal to the masses, but not the classes and family audiences. However, its business will vary from circuit to circuit, with North India [Sunny Deol territory] fetching better returns.