A lot is being said and written about this weekend's big release, Roy. If only it did not feature the leader of Bollywood's 'actor who can act' brigade, Ranbir Kapoor, we could have easily written it off as another tank by Arjun Rampal or Jacqueline Fernandez. But then to inject star value into it, T-Series decided to cast Kapoor, and that too in 'a dynamic role' meekly imitating the 'modest' credit given to him as the film begins. The trailer looked a sure misfire, but the songs worked wonders, much like any other T-Series film. But is that enough? Well, as we see around now, almost every one out there is appealing to debutante writer-director Vikramjit Singh to stand with a boombox and apologize. Sigh, so much thwart for a mere film. Not so advisable to proclaim but in all honesty, I must admit that I fairly liked Roy. Not because it is brilliant or great, only because it is ambitious, and even when it fails, it doesnt make an almighty mess.
At the very onset, allow me to decree upon you all a biased standpoint here. Roy is a meta film. What that means is that the film is about films, filmmakers and the process of filmmaking. So it abounds in insider references and individual connects based upon your own experiences as a part of the industry. The film does get a bit harder for people who are not connected to this industry to feel intimately about, whether you are a critic or just an audience member. Believe you me, you have to be involved in the process of filmmaking to pay some heed to what Vikramjit Singh tried to do. Having said that, it must be re-asserted that he did not do it too well either. Yet, India has not seen an attempt in this direction and I would give a hat tip just for that. For all you naysayers, YES Roy is pretentious, dull at times, lacks the depth it is aiming at, weaves a world of filmmakers which rings more fake than true, soaked in average performances, and what not, but hey, it does not bathe the audience in a stinky mud of cliches. And in a weird way, all the superficiality did work for me since we are talking about films, essentially a world of make believe.
Director Vikramjit Singh had a much novel aim in his head as he went into Roy. His masterstroke moment arrives right in the ending reels where the two lead heros of the film talk on a staircase how the conversation ends. Another gem of a moment comes with a gem of an advice for any filmmaker/writer, right after the intermission. A writer is the best person to know his character and the course of the story is known to no other than its creator, and if he is stuck, he must explore himself from within to find the way forward. Kabir Grewal (Arjun Rampal) is a successful writer/filmmaker who behaves more like a star, uses a vintage typewriter, but does not have a script ready going into a shooting schedule. Much like how Bollywood functions, but largely more callous than what we would have wanted to see. In Malaysia, he meets Ayesha Aamir (Jacqueline Fernandez), a London based independent filmmaker who doesnt really look like she is doing anything close to filmmaking ever in the film. Save for Rampal's mooning performance, Grewal atleast doesn't merely talk about films. Roy (Ranbir Kapoor, who looks quite bored here) is a thief, who steals exquisite artefacts and paintings for a living and Grewal is out to make a film on him. However, we never see him performing his avowedly unthinkable heists. That is so because the writer-director's focus is on something else. Amidst the customary world of director's aide Meera (Shernaz Patel, a straight out of the book portrayal), banally cliched dad (Anupam Kher, who has the trademark for playing this character by now) and everything else films, Singh looks determined to keep his focus on the blurring line between the real and reel in Grewal's head, more so as he falls for Ayesha. And so does Roy, with Tia (a barbie-dolled version of Jacqueline Fernandez), if I may say so without giving out any spoilers. Oh and there is also a despicable Wadia (Rajith Kapur, completely out of place) who is trying to track down Roy since years.
In it's initial reels, I heard the audience in my theatre reeling under confusion when scenes between the heroes and both Jacquelines are placed next to each other. At some point, the film does clear up the lumbering doubt but only to dole out a few more. But I did not feel any of those. I think it is because somewhere I had overheard a rumor about the big reveal of the film, and Roy did not appear a malarkey because of that. Vikram attempts to recreate a highly meta-philosophical world of inside and outside of a filmmaker and doesn't quite come out with flying colors but I cant get myself to be surly at him at all. It is ambitious, and may I call it brave as well. But unfortunately, it is also patchy. I can't get myself to spoil it for you but Roy works best if you know the suspense.
The story and direction aside, Roy boasts of sweeping visuals across the globe, Mumbai, Malaysia, London. Himman Dhamija's camerawork can boast of a touristy but exhilarating feel to it. Likable, much, specially the Malaysia bits. Editing by Dipika Kalra leaves a lot to desire as the film did test the patience of general audience. And so do the cringe worthy dialogues by Hussain Dalal. Seriously, if one could rewrite the dialogue draft of the script, it would feel so much better on screen. However, for whatever it lacks, Roy makes up in its soundtrack. A stupendous ensemble of Ankit Tiwari, Amaal Malik and Meet Bros Anjaan spur up very hummable numbers. Overall, Roy has production value which could be unfathomable for T-Series if it wasn't riding on Ranbir Kapoor.
I liked Roy for a variety of reasons, some of which I have tried to explain above. Whenever I didn't like it, I didnt hate it as much as everyone else seems to have. And I am not overrating it. I am calling it out on its long list of brazen fallacies, but then Vikramjit Singh is a man with some promise. Roy attempts a rare story, told with much more gutso than it pays off in the end. And next time around, it could have gotten it right. Right before the intermission, Grewal is sitting upset in his hotel as he feels like tearing the world apart. Right then, Roy fires gunshots in the air on a boat amidst a sea. That for me, defined the signature moment of the film. It could have been better and more consistent, but I am not ashamed to admit that I was largely impressed by it. Give it a shot if you can suspend your judgmental self, or love filmmaking immensely. You can also message me to give you the spoiler if you dont know yet and I believe Roy will definitely work for you then. I wont be surprised if no one else likes the film as well.
Rating - 3/5
Originally published for MadAboutMoviez here