'Dishkiyaoon': Complicated gangster flick with too many characters
Cheek mate! Papa says to his little boy, "Be Gandhian". Boy turns the other cheek to a bully in school. Bully slaps our young hero again. Boy visits neighbourhood gangster Tony Mota (so called because, we are informed, he is discernibly fat in some part of his body, giggle giggle) and asks for a solution.
"Hit him back," says Mota Tony, and instantly endears himself to the child-hero who grows up to be Harman Baweja.
Quite a stroke of luck for the burdened script. Harman brings to the narrative a residue of angst that serves the plot well. He plays a gangster who suffers constantly.
So, for that matter, do we, though for different reasons.
Debutant director Sanamjit Talwar unnecessarily complicates the gangster flick with layer after layer of characterisation. Sinister characters, desperately in need to bathe, keep popping up and popping off for no other reason except to remind us that the world of Mumbai's gangsterism has not changed much from the time when Ram Gopal Varma made "Satya".
But while in "Satya" we genuinely cared for the sanguinary characters, here in "Dishkiyaoon", we are too tired of the trigger-happy marauders to give a flying f**k about whether they live or die.
The dark menacing characters all look like carryovers from Varma's "Satya" and "Company" trying hard to shield their jadedness in a revved up revivified swagger which only helps to accentuate their frozen renewability.
The characters' hands remain soaked in the same blood as "Satya", no matter how hard the script tries to cover their bloodied track with streaks of cosmetic conceit. Try as it might the narration's worn-out edges stick out of the sleekly-designed format.
The film is very stylishly packaged with some ear-catching background music (Amar Mohile) and cinematography (Axel Fischer) that fuses colour and black-and-white in a hide 'n' seek with time.
Sad to say the impressive colour scheme lacks clarity consistence and logic. Much like the film which rambles on about the relationship between crime and comeuppance but doesn't offer us one reason to believe that these characters deserve our attention.
What redeems the film's inherently fagged-out storytelling are the actors.
Prashant Narayanan as Harman's mentor, Sumeet Nijhawan as a crime lord who doesn't use a gun and specially Anand Tiwari as a hot-headed goon, turn in implosive performances that ignite the frames when the director is taken up with intensifying the layering process.
Sunny Deol's Haryanvi accent is as distracting as Harman's moustache.
But the young actor has returned to the screen with the language of languidity lending an aura of urgent doom to the goings-on. Newcomer Ayesha Khanna has a brief but effective part as the guitar-playing musician who wonders if she and the world around her would ever be compatible.
Watching "Dishkiyaaoon" we are faced by the same dilemma. While we warm up to the film's performances and its intelligent take on gangsterism, the constant barrage of slaying and screaming leave us cold.
(Posted on 29-03-2014)