Just last week, FUKREY depicted the shortcuts the youth of today indulge in to accomplish their dreams and desires. SHORTCUT ROMEO also talks of the shortcut the male protagonist undertakes to lead a comfy life. The film, directed by Susi Ganesh, is a remake of the film-maker's successful Tamil film THIRUTTU PAYALE.
Although a remake, Susi takes the essence and gives it a complete makeover. The scale is larger. Also, a few modifications have been made to cater to the pan-India audience. The plot orbits around blackmail and deceit and Susi makes sure the thriller is embellished with several edge-of-the-seat-moments to create an anxiety-crammed environ. Although the film has its share of blemishes [more on that later], one cannot overlook the fact that Susi knows the grammar of film-making right and makes an impressive debut in Hindi films.
Suraj [Neil Nitin Mukesh], a good for nothing youth, arrives from Goa to Mumbai. He chances upon a couple indulging in love making on the lawns of a golf course. He shoots the act and later learns that the lovers, Monica [Ameesha Patel] and Ashish [Bunty Grewal], wouldn't mind shelling out a couple of lacs to keep their affair a secret from Monica's husband [Rajesh Shringarpure].
Suraj starts blackmailing Monica, demanding money for the footage he has shot. Monica has no choice but to succumb to the blackmail. In the meanwhile, Suraj falls in love with Sherry [Puja Gupta] and has a change of heart. But Monica decides to get even with Suraj and a dangerous cat and mouse game ensuesâ€¦
Almost 31 years ago, BEZUBAAN narrated the story of a housewife [Reena Roy] trying to keep an affair concealed from her husband [Shashi Kapoor] when a blackmailer [Naseeruddin Shah] comes knocking on her door. Although the plot of BEZUBAAN bears a striking resemblance to SHORTCUT ROMEO, the similarities end there. For, not just the blackmailer, but each and every character in the movie has grey shades. That's one of the prime reasons why this cat and mouse saga seems fascinating.
Susi embellishes the film with several attention-grabbing moments. The characters of Neil and Ameesha, for instance, give the film the required edge. Additionally, Susi knows how to keep the audience attention arrested. The screenwriting never falls prey to the tried and tested formulaic stuff that Bollywood is known for. Even the conclusion leaves you completely shocked [it's super!], since the spectator had never imagined the film would end on that note.
The film loosens its grip slightly at times. Besides, the drama leading to the climax could've been crisper. Also, the romantic portions are not as persuasive as the thrilling moments.
Susi is an accomplished storyteller, no two opinions on that. His handling of a complex subject deserves immense praise. Besides, he ensures that the film bears an affluent, striking look all through. Aiding him in giving the film a rich luster is the DoP, who captures the scenic locales of South Africa dexterously on celluloid. Himesh Reshammiya's music gels well with the mood of the film. 'Khali Salaam Dua' is easily the pick of the lot. Action is, generally, okay, but the one in Masai Mara is top notch. Dialogue are a mixed bag.
Neil gets a solid part to display his talent and he grabs the opportunity with his hands. The actor, who left a strong impression in DAVID earlier this year, is superb, displaying the varied streaks in his character with flourish. This film could prove to be a game-changer in his career. Ameesha gets an equally challenging character and she's in top form here. Also, she makes sure she doesn't go over the top since that would make her look like a vamp, which she's not. Puja Gupta, who displayed abundant confidence in GO GOA GONE, enacts her part with confidence, although the focus is on Neil and Ameesha chiefly.
Rajesh Shringarpure is efficient. Jatin Grewal is passable. Vrajesh Hirjee provides a few laughs in the sequence that he's in. Errol Peter Marks, Ashutosh Kaushik and Meherzan Mazda are perfect as Neil's friends. Susi Ganesh [plays the detective] is appropriate.
On the whole, SHORTCUT ROMEO is a well-made, stylish crime story with high-voltage drama as its highpoint. It may not boast of A-listers in its cast, but it has ample entertainment and edge-of-the-seat moments to offer. I suggest, give this one a chance!