ApunKaChoice : Bollywood


Abbas-MastanRace : Movie Review
21st Mar 2008  23.27 IST
By Nikhil Kumar  

Subtlety and restraint have never found a place in the movies of director duo Abbas-Mastan . Their latest thriller 'Race' is so much crammed with unexpected twists and turns that after a while you naturally begin to expect the unexpected from the film.

And that is the trap that any suspense thriller can fall into. In a bid to shock the viewer, Race keeps unraveling one surprise after another. So much so that after a while the surprises lose their shock value and the movie ceases to be a thriller.

This is the only major problem with 'Race'. Apart from this the movie is a fine entertainer with pretty good action sequences and a superb performance from Akshaye Khanna. He is the man you would love to hate in the film.

Set in picturesque cities of Durban and Cape Town, 'Race' tells the story of two brothers - Ranvir Singh ( Saif Ali Khan ) and Rajeev Singh ( Akshaye Khanna ).

Ranvir, the eldest of the two, is a shrewd businessman who owns a ranch named Stallions where horses are bred for races. He is a fierce competitor and he doesn't forgive anyone who double-crosses him.

Rajeev, on the other hand, is more interested in alcohol than family business. He likes to wake up to a glass of beer every morning to recover from the hangover of previous night's drinks.

Sonia ( Bipasha Basu ), a fashion model, walks into Ranvir's life and wins over his heart. On the other hand is Sophia ( Katrina Kaif ), Ranvir's gorgeous secretary who is always vying to get his attention, but without any success.

The ball is set rolling when Rajeev falls for Sonia and promises his brother that he would quit drinking if she agrees to marry him. Ranvir, like any true-blue big brother, sacrifices his love and becomes a matchmaker between the two.

But beneath the surface, evil plans are taking shape in the minds of the protagonists. One of the two brothers will die. And the other will inherit the huge insurance claim of 100 million.

The murder takes place. Enters detective RD or Robert D'Costa ( Anil Kapoor ) and his pretty and dumb secretary Mini ( Sameera Reddy ) who try to crack the case and get to the bottom of the mystery.

'Race' has a riveting first half, when the characters are introduced and their murky sides revealed. The plot in this half leaves many open ends, to be connected and explained when the mystery is finally unraveled in the end. The movie reaches its high point when one of the brothers is pushed from the terrace of a high-rise building.

This momentum continues for some more reels in the second half. But then the film's plot takes a serpentine route and passes through many unexpected bends, some of which are reasonable while some are deliberately contrived to surprise the viewer.

That is when Abbas-Mustan, the men in white, show their true 'colours'. The director duo doesn't care to be subtle. They pull out all the stops to squeeze in as many twists in the plot even when there wasn't any need. As the plot meanders through its many turns, it begins to lose its credibility. And you resign yourself to the fact that anything could happen. Even the dead can resurrect. After all, it's Easter time.

Akshaye Khanna deserves a special mention for a terrific performance in the film. He is the scene stealer. His pursed lips, his sarcastic smile, his raised brow and his funny demeanor make even the villainy of his character likeable. He plays the guy who has something funny to say even in the face of grave danger.

Saif Ali Khan is glum and uptight for most part of the movie (perhaps the requirement of his role). But you sense that his heart is not in playing his character. And he looks a little overweight in the action scenes when jumps from dizzy heights.

Katrina Kaif is incredibly good looking. But she is equally incredibly bad at acting. Bipasha Basu has more meat in her role (both figuratively and literally). But her role doesn't put any great histrionic demand on her.

Anil Kapoor is becoming quite predictable playing the desi-guy-inside-foreign-suit kind of roles. Yet he adds some good humour by playing his fruit-munching detective. Sameera Reddy is required to look sexy and sound dumb. She does both convincingly.

Two more driving forces of 'Race' are Pritam's music and Allan Amin's stunts. The car accident at the very beginning of the flick has been choreographed superbly. However, the freefalls and giant leaps could have been better. You can notice the use of cables in a stunt when Saif jumps to save Bipasha from a killer.

Pritam's music is loud and rocking and suits the mood of the film.

All in all, 'Race' is not a bad watch at all. Yes, it could have been much better if the director duo had incorporated more intelligent twists in the story.

Don't go expecting anything cerebral and you might end up enjoying 'Race'.

Rating: **1/2

Saif Ali Khan
Akshaye Khanna
Bipasha Basu
Katrina Kaif
Anil Kapoor
Sameera Reddy

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