Note : The edited version of this review appears at Planet Bollywood, here.
Rating : Excellent (4.4/5)
Genre : Drama
Year : 2009
Running time : 2 hours 15 minutes
Director : Vishal Bharadwaj
Cast : Shahid Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Amole Gupte, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Tenzing Nima
Kid rating : PG-13
KAMINEY : ENGROSSING MIX OF ARTY AND COMMERCIAl CINEMA !
Need I spell out the obvious ? Need I tell you that it’s all true – the hype, the adoring reviews, the awe ? Because it is; Kaminey is all I’d hoped for and then some. Vishal Bharadwaj’s directorial venture after his last Omkaara, which released in 2006, Kaminey is the ultimate mix of arty and commercial cinema, giving us quality-hungry folk what we desire most – a classy, captivating film.
As I said in the preview this is the story of two unique heroes, twin brothers with speech impediments; Charlie lisps, and Guddu stammers. Good-natured, honest Guddu is in trouble with Sunil “Chopper” Bhope (Amol Gupte), a Maharashtrian political criminal, when Bhope finds out that Guddu has impregnated his (Bhope’s) sister Sweety (Priyanka). Small-time crook Charlie, having gotten his hands on some contraband, finds it being whisked away from under his nose, and digs in his heels. Both must fight their way out of this chaos, Guddu for the love of his life, and Charlie for his big-time dreams.
The story is a lark and Bhardwaj has fun with it. Along with subtle humor, we are also treated to moments of irony; Guddu, who for his NGO, advocates the usage of condoms, doesn’t wear one himself, and lands himself in a predicament. There are gun-toting, eccentric villains galore, from the trio of Bangla brothers for whom Charlie works, to the very Mumbaikar Bhope and the North-eastern Tashi . And the story uses their “local” nuances to define their characters; the Bengali brothers spout Bangla in passion, Mumbaikar Bhope has an aversion for the migrant U.P-ite, while Tashi must prevent a business deal with his African brothers-in-law from going sour.
One might not imagine that heroes with speech impediments would actually hold interest, but then one probably hasn’t figured Shahid Kapur into the mix. Shahid plays both Guddu and Charlie with aplomb; ruthless Charlie smilingly telling Bhope that he pronounces “Fa for Fa” (Fa for Sa), or Guddu stammering so hard on being questioned by the cops that one wondered if he would even finish the sentence. Shahid was always a good actor, but in this film, we finally glimpse the acting chops he has inherited from his father, Pankaj Kapoor.
Priyanka also outdoes herself as Sweety. Shrill in anger, squeaky with relief, or tremulous with emotion – she does it all well. Amol Gupte, the writer of the sensitive kiddie film “Taare Zameen par” makes a convincing villain, as ready-to-sell-my-own-mother Bhope. And Chandan Sanyal was impressive as Mikhail, Charlie’s friend and partner-in-crime. The rest of the supporting cast is also very effective and believable.
The film’s screenplay is delightful, and Bharadwaj, as expected wields the directorial reins firmly. Kaminey has some excellent music, also provided by Bharadwaj ; while the almost cult number “Dhan-te-nan” is dance-floor and action-groovy, the soft ballad like tones of “Mohabbat ki hain” are firmly entrenched in new-found love.
Kaminey is a good film – the kind of film that I would want more of, and more often. However if there was one thing that I would have qualms about, it would be the almost potboiler-ish ending, because it seemed so in-your-face and obvious for an otherwise subtle and nuanced film.
Kidwise : This gets a PG-13 rating for gun-fight sequences, and some strong violence.
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