Hollywood has often made films based on real-life incidents. Just one incident/accident/encounter/catastrophe is enough to trigger off the imagination of a storyteller.
In India, the trend of making a film on a solitary incident is still in its infancy stages. That's because moviegoers in India expect a film to provide 'wholesome entertainment', with every ingredient that contributes to a masala film being served in proportionate doses.
SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA follows Western movies in terms of presenting an incident on celluloid. And with an impressive cast at his disposal, director Apoorva Lakhia gives faces to characters that aren't in public memory anymore, also enlightening those who weren't aware that such an incident took place in a bustling locality of Mumbai.
Like KAANTE, MUSAFIR and ZINDA, SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA is dark and violent. In fact, the film begins with blood stains and concludes with blood-soaked bodies being carried to a van. The action is real and the impact this film makes in the penultimate 30 minutes is jaw-dropping.
But there's a flip side too. You ought to have a strong stomach to absorb a film like SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA. If the raw action depicted on screen is very real, it could have a nauseating effect as well. Blood, gore and guns can be very off-putting, especially for families/ladies/those into feel-good, sunshine cinema.
In a nutshell, SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA is sure to meet with extreme reactions. You'd either love it or detest it!
SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA is the story of a top cop [Sanjay Dutt], who along with Kaviraj Patil [Suniel Shetty] and Javed Shaikh [Arbaaz Khan], eliminated the trigger-happy gangsters in a residential locality of Mumbai.
SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA is the story of Maya [Vivek Oberoi], who made extortion the buzzword in the early 90s, dared to disobey the 'Big Bhai' of the underworld and fought back a posse of policemen for six hours.
It takes time to absorb a film like SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA. That's because the film goes back and forth before focusing on the main incident. The initial portions, depicting the rise of Maya and his gang, are difficult to comprehend at first. But, gradually, the viewer is sucked into a world that sent shivers down the spine in the 1990s.
Thankfully, the film doesn't turn out to be one of those docu-dramas that depict the rise and fall of a gangster. Neither is SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA an extension of 'cop films' like KHAKEE and DEV. The film talks of a dreaded gangster and how the cops eventually eliminated him. But there are layers in the film that we, as commoners, weren't aware of.
That SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA is raw and crude would be an understatement. The subject demands that kind of a treatment and director Apoorva Lakhia executes it accordingly. The film is interesting in parts, but the best is reserved for the finale. However, from the writing point of view, there's not much that the viewer gets to know of these gangsters. Also, while the incident may be a novel experience from the cinematic point of view, the cop-versus-gangster saga has been beaten to death in Bollywood.
Also, Apoorva could've limited the film to a song or two. The songs in the film are akin to uninvited guests, standing out like sore thumbs in the narrative. Cinematography is consistent. The editing of the final portions is topnotch. Action scenes, as mentioned earlier, are life-like.
SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA is embellished with a great cast, but the ones who stand out with winning portrayals are, in this order: Sanjay Dutt [effective], Amrita Singh [exceptional], Suniel Shetty [competent], Tusshar [impactful] and Arbaaz Khan [good]. Amitabh Bachchan is not in his element, expect for the final sequence in the courtroom. Abhishek Bachchan is wasted. Although the makers have publicized his presence as a special appearance, it's shocking to see Abhishek getting bumped off at the very start.
Vivek Oberoi repeats his COMPANY act yet again. In COMPANY, it came as a surprise. In SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA, it's monotony. However, his death sequence is fantastic. Rohit Roy is strictly okay. Shabbir Ahluwalia is limited to a few closeups and a line or two here and there. Aditya Lakhia gets no scope. Akhilendra Mishra is fair. A.A. Khan is natural.
Dia Mirza does well. Neha Dhupia gets no scope. Aarti Chhabria registers an impact in the penultimate telephone sequence with Tusshar. Rakhi Sawant's presence comes as a surprise.
On the whole, SHOOTOUT AT LOKHANDWALA will meet with mixed reactions. A section of moviegoers [masses especially] would love the violent proceedings, while the ladies/families might give it cold shoulder. At the box-office, the terrific cast and promotion will ensure a fantastic start for the film, helping its producers/distributors recover their investment and make some profits too. Business in Mumbai should be the best.