Mumbai, Nov 03: After the utterly asinine Style and Excuse Me , N. Chandra redeems his sagging reputation with a work that takes him back to the dark guilt-aged urban fable of his early films Ankush and Pratighaat .
What's wrong with the social and administrative machinery that ostensibly runs but actually overruns the common man's life? This is a question that innumerable films on the law enforcer's dilemma have posed in various styles.
In Kagaar , Chandra goes for the kill.
The story of a restless cop Bhaskar (debutant Amitabh Dayal ) who believes that fake "encounter" deaths are the only way to rid the society of hardened criminals, it is striven by a succession of sock-in-the-face images done in dark shades that recall Govind Nihalani's Ardh Satya .
The curse-and-affect format is often a little put-on, especially when the lingo gets deliberately abusive.
But full marks to cinematographer Manoj Gupta for making that slippery jump from the garish in Chandra's Excuse Me to the grim and gritty colours of crime-infested city life in Kagaar .
The elaborate screenplay by Sujit Sen takes the protagonist back to his roots in the village and then delineates his journey into the heart of urban darkness. The migratory transition is convincingly achieved.
To its credit the screenplay manages to hold together various elements from the protagonist's life without losing out on the essential humanism of the plot.
The impotence of being honest to one's job comes across in several key scenes within the cop's domestic ambit and on the slick streets where Bhaskar must chase his childhood chum turned grownup crime lord till the inevitable end.
Anoop Soni as the hero's gangster-friend gives a riveting flamboyant twist to his complex character.
This is the underrated actor's most challenging role ever, and he doesn't let go of one moment of his playing time to construct a character that has a graph and a grip .
Debutant Amitabh Dayal has some tough khaki-clad acts to follow up, including his legendary namesake's clenched cop's part in Zanjeer , a film to which Kagaar owes direct linear allegiance.
Dayal manages the mutating shades of anger well. But he needs to improve his body language, specially his hand gestures.
The film is sub-captioned 'Living On The Edge'. The cop's harassed neglected and overwrought wife does more of that -- living on the edge -- than the cop.
Bollywood sees khakhi in Kagaar
SUBHASH K JHA
IANS[ SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 02, 2003 04:15:00 PM ]
Everyone from Jaya Bhaduri in Zanjeer to Raveena Tondon in Shool to Mahima Chowdhary in Kurukshetra has done it.
Nandita Das has earlier played an overworked cop's sultry spouse in Aks . Here she's more at home. Her scenes with Dayal are occasionally electric.
But it's Om Puri as the hero's tormented mentor who holds our attention. His cynical disregard for rules and his guarded forebodings vis-à-vis Bhaskar's extra-constitutional crime busting are lucidly mapped in that eloquent face.
Kagaar lends a lot of substance in its cinematic dialect. The one-night story done with such dark dynamism by Sudhir Mishra in Iss Raat Ki Subah Nahin works effectively in telling the cop's tale.
But the film loses out in its pursuit of dramatic idealism.
Too much of the right-and-wrong issue here has been done earlier on in a string of good bad and indifferent cops films.
Kagaar falls in-between. Though lacking the eyeball-arresting intensity of Ardh Satya , it moves through a maze of motivations that indicate a sincerity on the makers' part.
But being earnest isn't what great art is all about. Sometime one needs to cheat a little to walk that extra mile.
Neither Kagaar nor its protagonist seem to believe in the persuasive powers of artistic subterfuge. The film is more bland than grand.