Bollywood has always been about stars and godfathers. Very rarely does one see an actor reaching dizzying heights of stardom without the proverbial godfather. This week sees the release of MACHINE, which marks the debut of Mustafa Burmawalla, the son of Abbas Burmawalla aka Abbas (of the famous director duo Abbas-Mustan fame). Will MACHINE see a promising ‘son-rise’ in Bollywood or will it be a ‘worn out’ affair at the Box-Office, let’s analyze.
MACHINE is essentially a love story (written by Sanjeev Kaul) which happens amidst the greed for money and mysterious circumstances. The film starts off in picturesque North India, with the introduction of the extremely helpful Saira Thapar (Kiara Advani). This is followed by the ‘racy’ introduction of Ranch (Mustafa Burmawalla), who is smitten by Saira at first sight. This is followed by a car race, which is won by the dashing Ranch, who doesn’t believe in the concept of ‘using brakes’, which forms his secret to success. Saira, who is extremely famous and immensely likeable amongst her friends, starts getting mysterious gifts from a secret admirer. And while Saira expects her secret admirer to be the adorable Ranch, it turns out that it was her best friend Raj. And when Raj steps ahead to tell his feelings to Saira, he is hit by a speeding car, which kills him immediately, along with yet another friend from the gang who incidentally is also in love with Saira. An extremely disturbed Saira not only finds solace in Ranch, but she also eventually gets married to him. This is immediately followed Ranch reaching Georgia to take part in a most prestigious car racing championship. It is here where he falls madly in love with Serena Altar (Carla Ruth Dennis). Ranch, then, meets up with Serena’s father Kriss Altar (Dalip Tahil) and asks for his daughter’s hand in marriage. Does Ranch have a mysterious past and is his life more than what meets the eye is what forms the rest of the film.
When MACHINE’s promos were released, it did not create the kind of impact and impression that one generally would associate with an Abbas-Mustan film. Without beating around the bush, one can say that it’s the film’s extremely weak screenplay (Sanjeev Kaul), which mars the film in a big way. The film’s screenplay does not offer anything new and lands up following the same path which had been adopted by many films till date. The weak script also lands up making the film all style and no substance. There’s no denying the fact that the film’s writing could have been notches higher. The film’s dialogues (Sanjeev Kaul), besides being devoid of one liners, are very average and fail to leave an impression. A few lines do come across as corny. The comic in the films seems totally thrusted.
After having directed thrillers like BAAZIGAR, RACE, RACE 2, the director duo of Abbas-Mustan changed gears with their last film KIS KISKO PYAAR KAROON, which was a rom-com. This time round, with MACHINE, Abbas-Mustan are back to what they are doing best - directing thrillers. Everyone knows that a typical Abbas-Mustan film is eagerly awaited because of its stylish presence, thrills, unexpected twists as well as the suspense. MACHINE does see the trademark film making style of Abbas-Mustan, but, the average storyline plays the spoilsport. The proceedings of the film’s first half is slow as it is entirely devoted to the typical routine boy-meets-girl romance, which is followed by their marriage. The ‘actual’ story of the film begins from the point of interval. As the film proceeds, one just cannot help but draw comparisons between MACHINE and Abbas-Mustan’s earlier film BAAZIGAR. The film’s second half sees unexpected twists and turns, which ‘accelerates’ the pace of the film. Because of the fact that the film’s climax is extremely long-drawn, it fails to touch the hearts. In movies where the mainstay are the twists, thrill and suspense, it requires a simplified way of narration and less confusion. However, despite having all the elements of a thriller, MACHINE starts moving around in circles and gets confusing.
As for the performances, the film is completely tailor made for the debutante Mustafa Burmawalla. The film acts as a complete platform (read ‘dream platform’) to display all his skills. The sad part, however, is that, despite coming from the famous Abbas-Mustan’s lineage, Mustafa Burmawalla (visibly) struggles in MACHINE. Mustafa, who is decent at places, does have lots of raw edges which require polishing. These areas include his dialogue delivery and while handling emotional scenes. Even though his performance looks sincere enough for his character, the flip side is that, it fails to look convincing. The film gives him ample opportunity to showcase every possible ‘heroic’ skill. He definitely has a long way to go before he makes it big in Bollywood. On the other hand, the 2-film old Kiara Advani (who was last seen in M. S. DHONI: THE UNTOLD STORY), has a strong author backed role. She shows immense promise and utmost potential as an actress. She turns out to be the surprise element of the film. With a right combination of good looks and talent, she is simply raring to go with this film. Ronit Roy, who is at his menacing best, is excellent in the film. Johnny Lever’s track seems totally out of place and forced in the film and could have been avoided. Veteran actors like Dalip Tahil and Sharat Saxena have nothing much to do. Even the actors who play the friends of Mustafa and Kiara deserved better names and better talents.
Abbas Mustan’s films (KHILADI, RACE, BAAZIGAR) which have been predominantly love stories and thrillers, always had good music. The music (Tanishk Bagchi and Zeus) of MACHINE is totally mediocre. The lack of great music also acts as one of the weak points of the film. Even the much hyped track ‘Tu Cheez Badi Hai’ is totally wasted. On the other hand, the film’s background score (Sandeep Shirodkar) is good and helps in elevating the film’s narrative.
The film's cinematography (Dilshad V. A.) is outstanding. The way in which they have shown the locales of Georgia are fabulous. The film's editing (Hussain A. Burmawalla) is decent and does not hamper the film in anyway.
On the whole, MACHINE is strictly an ordinary fare. Lack of emotional connect coupled with a weak script, unknown faces and mediocre music will play spoilsport for the film at the Box-Office.