Hail Vishal Bhardwaj, the iconoclast of Indian cinema, the trail-blazer who redefines entertainment with his edge-of-the-seat roller-coaster ride called Kaminey that sucks (can’t lisp here) a viewer into the dark, netherworld of Mumbai through a riveting story of twin brothers, similar in appearance but as different from each other as chalk is from cheese.
Fasten your seat belts folks, and cast that cola aside. You are about to land into the dirty damp world of ‘Kaminey’, populated by bookies, trigger-happy drug mafia, corrupt cops and power-hungry goons with political ambition. In the melee of these kaminey characters unspools the story of Guddu and Charlie (Shahid Kapur), two estranged brothers who have nothing in common, not even their speech defects.
Charlie, who lisps (pronounces ‘sa’ as ‘fa’), is looking for a ‘fortcut’ to make big ‘paifa’ and become a bookie, while Guddu, who stammers, h..h..has a clear life plan charted out before him. He works for an NGO spreading AIDS awareness but – in a delightful irony – ends up impregnating his girlfriend Sweety (Priyanka Chopra) on a romantic night when that little piece of rubber went missing. And now, as he tears down the chart of his life-plan, Guddu has no choice but to unwillingly marry Sweety, not so much out of love for her or the child, but out of fear of her politician brother Bhope Bhau (Amol Gupte), a thickset, full-blooded Marathi manoos who wants to marry off his sister to an influential builder for political mileage.
On the other hand, Charlie, following the ‘fortcut’ to riches, creates a big mess around himself by filching a guitar case containing cocaine worth Rs. 10 crores. Soon, the corrupt cops of anti-narcotics cell and the drug lord Taashi (Tenzing Nima) are on his trail.
In this cat and mouse game, the baddies get mixed up between the twins. Who’s Guddu and who’s Charlie? Amid the shootouts and mayhem that follows, the two brothers rediscover love for each other.
‘Kaminey’ is not a path-breaking film. Nor is it too cerebral or thought-provoking. It is a heady cocktail of art-house realism and Bollywood masala with a distinct Tarantino tang. It is pure entertainment like never presented before in Bollywood.
The film’s breath is its imaginative screenplay which is full of humour-laced situations flicked straight out of life. Rather than opening all the cards at once, the story unravels in a way that keeps the curiosity alive. Though one can foresee the outcome of the story, it’s hard to predict the path it will take to reach that outcome. That’s what keeps you glued to the screen. Bharadwaj’s compositions, particularly the ‘Dhan Te Nan’ song and riff (used as leitmotif) and cinematography by Tassaduq Hussain are the strengths of ‘Kaminey’. But nothing holds the film together stronger than the performances by actors.
We haven’t seen Shahid Kapur act as good as he does in ‘Kaminey’. Not only does he master the speech defects, he puts on a different body language for the twin characters. It’s most apparent in a scene where the two brothers Guddu and Charlie have a fight. Priyanka Chopra too internalizes her character of a feisty, love-struck Maharashtrian girl impeccably. Note her in a scene where she squabbles with Shahid at the beginning of the film.
It’s hard to believe that no filmmaker in Bollywood yet utilized the talent of writer-painter-actor Amole Gupte (the writer and creative director of Taare Zameen Par). As a diabetic goon with political ambition, Gupte delivers the finest performance in the film. Don’t miss the mock gunplay between Gupte and the promising newcomer Chandan Roy (who plays Shahid’s sidekick) before one of them guns down the other at the start of the second half.
Bharadwaj has conceived many such interesting sequences in ‘Kaminey’. Take for instance that scene when Shahid and his partners in crime realize that the car they’ve stolen to get away from their chasers is actually a police car. Or the finale when all the baddies descend on the same hot spot and the guns are drawn. What follows is a funny bargain to divide the drug money.
Such gems apart, there are some weak links as well in ‘Kaminey’. The flashback story about the past of Guddu and Charlie and revealing why they hate each other is just not convincing. Or take that scene when an emotional Guddu begins to tell Sweety about his childhood crush. It’s embarrassingly cheesy.
Don’t go expecting the moon from ‘Kaminey’. It’s a bit violent, a bit funny, a bit emotional film that leaves you entertained but not wiser.