Stars: John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Kangna Ranaut, Tusshar Kapoor, Manoj Bajpai, Sonu Sood, Ronit Roy
Directed by: Sanjay Gupta
Sanjay Gupta’s first directorial venture since the 2005 film Zinda, (not counting his parts in Dus Kahaaniya) is a sort of follow-up/prequel to 2007’s Shootout At Lokhandwala. Set in 1970s Mumbai, it tells the story of the first-ever registered encounter by Mumbai police, where gangster Manya Surve (John Abraham) was shot dead, which took place at the junction next to Dr. Ambedkar College, Wadala, Mumbai on 11 January 1982.
The story, partly based on a true events, is quite interesting, and it plays out well. It is not so clear straight away, but it is told as a flashback by John Abraham’s character, which framing-wise works. Flashbacks can be a lazy way of telling a story, but it makes sense here. Sanjay Gupta’s vague direction in other areas is decent as well, though he doesn’t do anything new for the gangster-movie genre. I didn’t see Lokhandwala, but I imagine it was pretty similar in style. The writing is worth mentioning though, despite some seriously cringe-worthy lines, and the obvious bad language that is expected from this sort of film, there’s some good work in there. The screenplay was written by Gupta, along with Sanjay Bhatia and Abhijit Deshpande.
The acting ranges from really good to barely watchable. The older, more established actors are the most impressive. Anil Kapoor, as ACP Afaaque Baghraan, Manoj Bajpai, and Anupam Kher as the corrupt cop, leave the best impression. The casting of Bajpai and Sonu Sood as brothers was a pretty good move. John Abraham is getting better, but his performance is not consistent. There are moments where a really good actor comes out, but fades fairly quickly. It’s almost depressing to see Tusshar Kapoor still trying to make it, and it’s time Ekta Kapoor (the producer and his sister) gave up on him too. She’s the only one keeping him in a business that really doesn’t want him. Kangna Ranaut plays Vidya, Manya’s love interest. It’s quite a good role, though it portrays the only proper female character in the whole film as rather weak. It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of Ranaut (that’s an understatement), and she does nothing here to change my mind. I wish literally anyone else would have played the role of Vidya. Literally anyone.
A gangster movie means that gratuitous violence is inevitable, and Shootout At Wadala has its fair share, however the amount of sugar glass used, and smashed is ridiculous. It’s like it’s their only trick, and one they don’t use very well. Glass has never looked more fake on film. Also the fight scenes are most of the time, badly edited. Just because technology allows us to do a lot of different things when it comes to editing films, doesn’t mean we have to do them. Sometimes the simple cuts of pre-computer editing work best, something Bunty Nagi should think about.
Shootout At Wadala has three item numbers in it. Three. Most films have one. Two is really pushing it, and is only really acceptable if it makes sense, and the songs are good. Three, when they serve no purpose to the story, are uncomfortable to watch, and not exactly a good listen, is bordering on unforgivable. The first one, with Sunny Leone, ‘Laila Teri Le Legi’ is the only one with a slight connection to the plot, but they could have done away with song, and her poor attempt at acting. The second one with Priyanka Chopra, ‘Babli Badmaash’ is completely unnecessary. No film needs an item song as the second scene post-intermission. Let’s not even talk about the song itself, or the choreography. The third one, Sophie Chaudhary (who like Tusshar Kapoor needs to quit now), ‘Aala Re’, again adds nothing to the film, just awkwardness watching Chaudhary dance in a set for a bad Western movie. (I wrote notes post the film for reviewing purposes, which include “3rd item song, wtf?”) If the film really needed more than one item song, this should have been the second, with a different actress, and ‘Babli Badmaash’ should have been cut completely.
This has become one of those reviews where I rant for most of it, but that’s mainly because there’s a lot to say on the negative points of the film. Overall it’s not bad though, I might even say I enjoyed it a little. Ignoring the item numbers, certain actresses, and poorly edited violence, there’s a good, vaguely directed, film in there somewhere.
Shooutout At Wadala is out now.