Sunday, May 5, 2013

Shootout At Wadala is a campy actioner with nothing new on its plate

When a film like Shootout At Wadala comes your way, you know exactly what to expect. If you have seen the 2007 Shootout At Lokhandwala, this one is a chronological prequel to it, despite the fact this comes almost 6 years later. Teething brutality was a remnant feature of the 2007 actioner that worked well amongst a large audience riding on efficient direction and some good acting. Shootout at Wadala boasts of a seasoned cast of Anil Kapoor, John Abraham, Manoj Bajpai, Kangana Ranaut, Sonu Sood, Tusshaar, Mahesh Manjrekar and Ronit Roy. And this time director Sanjay Gupta loads the proceedings with not only gargantuan amounts of gore action, but also pours in generous sleaze and titillation, carefully bereaving the film of a storyline and character development. 

Based on a chapter in S Hussain Zaidi’s book From Dongri To Dubai, the film is a lavishly dramatized fictive cinematic version of the first police encounter in Bombay in 1982, which needed to be told like a journalistic account or somewhere on the lines of its predecessor. SAW is the tale of the rise and fall of Manya Surve, Bombay's first Hindu gangster who stood up against the likes of Dawood Ibrahim after dutifully living his life as a respectable citizen turned gangster due to pressing circumstances and the unjust police force, almost like out of any 80s film. The narrative splutters, chugs and falls into a pit as honestly, Surve's story or the account hereof, is the same as the most cliched chain of events for most Hindi action movies. However, what works is that Gupta infuses the proceedings with a barrage of action sequences stacked together like a pile interspersed only by innuendo laden item numbers with grotesque dance moves. Milap Zaveri's dialogues suffer a serious hangover from his peer Rajat Aroraa who is famous for his works in Once Upon A Time in Mumbai and The Dirty Picture, using a pattern of rhyming verses to pseudo fill in for the lack of wit. However, this time they come laden with a host of louche cusswords thrown in to induce claps. The screenplay, almost anecdotal in nature, jumps from killings to killings never immersing the audience in the lives of its characters, unfortunately. 

To Gupta's credit, he does get a few things right. Being his zone of comfort, he captures a lot of action sequences (Tinnu Verma) with much ardor, despite their unoriginal nature. His traditional sepia-camerawork (Sameer Arya and Sanjay F. Gupta), slow motion badassery and sleek editing (Bunty Nagi) lends SAW a fair mass entertainment value, coupled with the sleaze brigade of Sunny Leone, Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut and Sophie Chaudhary. Any scenes involving the girls are almost voyeuristic in treatment. Despite a runtime of 150 odd minutes, SAW does not become mundane, that is if you have an appetite for violence.  Music of the film has no memorable value and will die out like most item numbers do. 

Manya Surve was a dreaded gangster who rose to fame in very less time in the 70s Bombay.  He also won "Mumbai Shri" title in body building and was the one who murdered Dawood's brother, Sabir Ibramhim. John Abraham slips into Surve's shoes with a lot of heart and soul. He sweats out every drop of acting potential to look and enact this role, but still you are still exposed to his limitations that straitjacket this performance. Anil Kapoor is fairly ordinary and Kangana Ranaut is expectedly pesky. Sonu Sood and Manoj Bajpai only get a few scenes to show off their histrionics and do well in them. Tusshaar is one of the few actors who have not shown any improvement in many years of acting career also and he sneeringly smiles at me as I say this because he is permanently employed by Balaji Motion Pictures. Ronit Roy and Mahesh Manjrekar do not get much scope. 

When Shootout At Lokhandwala was a gritty retelling of the original encounter with a solicited focus on the backstory of each of the characters. On the other hand, Shootout At Wadala is haphazard slam-bang assemblage of incidents doused and soaked in sleaze and foul language. It does work as a one-time watch due to its painstaking effort to be a violent movie, but that could be crucially putting off for many too. The film took a good start on Friday but the business dipped on Saturday. I do not expect any wonders at the Box Office as SAW does not offer much originality for die-hard fans also. Watch it if you have nothing better to do!

Rating - 2/5

Originally published for MadAboutMoviez here

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