After his Shakespearean treats, Vishal Bhardwaj hits the nail on the head with Kaminey, writes Sneha May Francis
cast Amole Gupte, Shahid Kapur, Priyanka Chopra, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Tenzing Nima
director Vishal Bhardwaj
It’s predictable, yet there’s an element of the unpredictable. It’s a run-of-the-mill story, yet its treatment is different. It’s this combination of the familiar and unfamiliar that makes Kaminey an extraordinary watch. Vishal Bhardwaj effortlessly takes Bollywood’s tried-and-tested formula and turns it around, à la Quentin Tarantino. It’s a film that credits the audience with some grey matter, unlike other productions that tend to spoon-feed us the story.
It’s a twisted tale about estranged twins who reunite to fight the baddies. Apart from sharing the same features, Charlie and Guddu (Kapur) are as different as chalk and cheese. One lisps (it’s ‘f’ for ‘s’), while the other stammers. While Charlie is unafraid to take on the big bad world to make a quick buck, Guddu is the docile peace-loving kind who gives in to his girl Sweety’s (Chopra) wedding plans. While one tragic incident separates the boys, another reunites them.
Kaminey takes a while to set the mood, but after the initial 15 minutes, you are sucked into the murky streets of Mumbai where a story of survival and grit unfolds. Unlike most Bollywood films, you are required to give this your full attention, as one distraction could cost you an integral twist.
Bhardwaj deserves special recognition for painting the world of crime in shades – completely alien in Hindi films. He tosses the camera around in quick, easy moves, adding character to the evil. His story is tight and the dialogue is exceptional. Bhardwaj goes on to develop each of his characters without overindulging. He packs in a few brilliant tracks – as is the norm in Hindi cinema – but doesn’t disrupt the pace of the film.
Kaminey is packed with brilliant scenes that’ll remain with you long after you’ve left the theatre. The corrupt cop Lobo coaxing Guddu to tune his answers so they’d avoid the delays caused by his stammer; Bhope bribing a little boy with money for a cycle to stop him from letting out their secret, Mikail and Bhope’s eerily childish gun battle, Charlie’s Spiderman ("Fpiderman") theme song and the colourfully rendered De Tana Tan track are some gems that Vishal throws our way. And he ends the drama with an action-packed climax, garnished subtly with humour. Looksl ike he’s taken a potshot at the mad Bollywood endings we’ve grown accustomed to.
Performance-wise, it’s Kapoor who steals the spotlight. His double act is the best I’ve ever witnessed on celluloid. Gupte follows with an equally passionate performance. He teases us with his intense portrayal of the power-hungry don/politician who is willing to sell his ideologies for money. Sanyal plays Charlie’s best buddy to menacing perfection, while Chopra takes on Guddu’s lover with childlike innocence and undying loyalty. And Nima gives the underworld don a thrilling touch.
With gripping performances, a tight script and crisp editing, Kaminey is for intelligent cinema audiences. For those who are accustomed to the sweet taste of brain-dead masala flicks, this could prove a tad tough to digest, but we suggest you give it a go. You won’t be disappointed. For ‘f’ure!
(Published in e+, Gulf News August 20, 2009)