by Shreehari H
A gold medalist in finance from IIM Ahmedabad asks an interviewee to sell a cup of coffee to anyone in his panel. Before this prospect with Dalal Street-sized dreams can receive the cup from him, however, the former spits into it, glaring at him all the while as if daring him to proceed. “Do minute,” he says (before helpfully translating this into “two minutes”) and holds up two fingers for those of us who might be aurally challenged. A gimmick like this can hold up only in a parallel, harebrained universe: one where his alma mater’s acronym most probably stands for ‘Indian Institute of Morons’ instead of its managerial counterpart.
The protagonist here is Rizwan Ahmed, a young starry-eyed man who self-effacingly refers to himself as “Allahabad University ka launda” and idolizes Shakun Kothari, a magnate who consistently finds himself in the spotlight (“5 years, 50 deals, 5000 crores!”, a magazine headline screams out). Played by newbie Rohan Mehra, this is a blank-faced hero utterly devoid of charisma. He is the dullard of Dalal Street, a man who ironically makes statements like “bharosa khud par hai” and wears the same hangdog expression throughout the film’s proceedings (admittedly something that Arjun Kapoor has mastered by now, but to each his own), irrespective of who is courting him – from petite colleagues to pithy investigators.
Saif Ali Khan is in top form as a man who lives for (and lives by) bottom lines, a streak of grey hair adding just a further hint of menace to an already conflagrative persona. The actor has an instinctively regal bearing to him which invariably comes to the fore while playing self-made characters like this one, and even when straddled with pedestrian dialogue, he makes some of the lines work. We are told, for instance, that two overarching dictums help chart the course of this steely-eyed business wiz’s life. “Rule number one: mera paisa kabhi khona nahin. Aur rule number two: rule number one kabhi bhoolna nahin,” this Kendriya Vidyalaya graduate from Surat says with blue-blooded elegance, and his performance is arguably one of the film’s only redeeming points.
Director Gauravv K Chawla’s tackily conceived film teems with many an unintentional laugh-out-loud moment, and I found myself stifling a grin on more than one occasion. “Aasaan hai. Paytm pe flight book karo aur jao,” Rizwan’s sister explains when he expresses his desire to move to Maximum City. Having finally gotten himself onto this Vijay Shekhar Sharma-backed flight, he takes a moment off to break the fourth wall as well, staring directly at the camera and uttering lines that go something like this: “Team ke har naye khiladi ke liye ek senior khiladi uska khuda hota hai.” Both Radhika Apte and Chitrangada Singh are utterly wasted here, playing perfunctory, completely excisable characters whose only brief was probably to look pretty all the time. Making an intelligent actress like Apte struggle to lip-sync in a song is not necessarily the brightest of ideas, and in a scene where she smooches her newly-minted boyfriend, the latter suddenly breaks apart to recollect his thoughts, prompting her to ask: “What’s wrong? Do you have performance anxiety?”
Just suffixing every spoken word with “che” doesn’t make a character Gujarati by extension, and the film abounds in stereotypes as well, from intelligent Bengali officers to money-minded Gujarati businessmen. When a SEBI raid is just about to begin, Shakun tries to buy some time with dialogues like “timepass ke liye ek story sunaati hoon”. The film’s random songs only serve to further impede an already disjointed narrative, and even Yo Yo Honey Singh – bless his soul – makes an appearance, with lyrics like “rabb ne fursat se tujhe banaya top class, tarasha tujhe hathon se phir bheja mere paas, apna ghar chhod baby mere paas hain do villas, Dubai mein Chivas aur California mein grass.”
What this film really needed is a closing bell at the beginning itself.
The icing on this less-than-savoury cake, however, comes when Shakun likens himself to a steeplechaser, albeit one running without the hurdles in place. “Ek advice de raha hoon. Dheere daud. Zindagi ek marathon hai, koi 100-metre sprint nahin,” an adversary of Shakun’s offers by way of unsolicited advice. When Shakun counters by asking him who the world’s best marathon runner is, he struggles to come up with a reply, and pat comes the next query: who is the 100-metre champion? This, expectedly, is a question we all know the answer to, and Kothari underlines his all-too-obvious point with an adage as well: “Marathon mein daudne waalon ko koi yaad nahin rakhta, Deepu.” Don’t underplay the wisdom of what this man is saying. He is the wolf of Lol Street.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Shreehari H is a lover of films and an even greater lover of writing.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius