Mayank Shekhar review: Players

By Hindustan Times

Directors: Abbas and Mustan Burmawala
Actors: Abhishek Bachchan, Neil Nitin Mukesh
Rating: *1/2

A few players intend to share the loot, given the plan or plot (borrowed from Hollywood) is already in place. That’s the story of this film. It could be the story of its making as well!

The said players hired for a death-defying mission comprise an illusionist (Bobby Deol), a computer hacker (Neil Nitin Mukesh), an explosives expert (Sikander Kher), a prosthetics make-up guy (Omi Vaidya), and an automobile expert (Bipasha Basu, looking oddly shaped). Abhishek Bachchan, adept at voice mimicries, leads this team. An old man called Victor (Vinod Khanna), currently in jail, has handpicked this group.

Sitting in prison, wearing a consultant’s office jacket over his jail uniform, Victor dada addresses a bunch of nincompoop cops, including the commissioner, on the three rules, he means differences, between the police from the chor. Rule one, the thief’s an artiste. Rule two, he never retires from his job. Rule three, his brain never tires either.

Which is good to know. But you still don’t get the point. Well, hold on then, the banalities have merely begun; you’ll stop questioning soon. Just concentrate on the near perfect robbery carried out on a train that’s ferrying Rs 10,000 crore worth of gold between Russia and Romania. Well done, Burmawalla Borthers: Abbas-Mustan, directors of ‘sasta evam tikau’ (cheap, plus effective) hit Hollywood rip-offs Race, Humraaz, Baazigar, etc. That train sequence is crisply filmed, the gold’s in the hero’s hands. We should head home now. But wait, it’s only the interval. One of the fellows in this group (Neil Nitin Mukesh) breaks out from the others to pocket all the loot himself. This is how the sullen faced Bobby Deol character, who shows up for maybe four scenes, is already killed off. Thank you for that saving grace. Let’s walk back to the theatre.

I do, in the same way I had before, with a clean slate, an open mind, letting no conventional wisdom or prejudice come in the way of learning and interpreting. It’s like, you know, how Naipaul entered countries as a travel writer!

This flick is an official adaptation of The Italian Job. That thriller has two versions (2003, 1969), widely accessible on DVD, TV and the Internet, which I deliberately chose to avoid, lest the originals colour my perceptions. There’s possibly a fair case to be made for plagiarism that is acknowledged, or paid for. The connoisseurs may already know the original work. The ignorant get exposed to something new. What could be wrong with that. Bollywood’s been good at it, for years, especially when it comes to music. Some of the knock-off Hindi songs I reckon are actually better than those they were lifted from.

With movies per se the scene gets quite muddled up and murky. Almost always. Nothing could’ve prepared you for the moronic mayhem that follows here either. Computer hacker villain (Neil Nitin Mukesh) is now the new-age Shakaal with voice-reognition software across his deadly mansion, “Open the door, baby.” Door opens. “Shut the gate, baby.” Gate shuts. He gawks at girls at various nightclubs from his media room, flicking on screens of his giants iPads, choosing one girl for every night. BMW’s Rs 25 lakh MINI Cooper gets to insert the world’s longest 70 mm commercial through this pic, incidentally on the week of the car’s launch in India.

Johnny Lever walks in for relief as MC, whose twin brother’s called BC. He has a white wife, a “Bhartiya nari” into satyanarayan pooja; blonde kids who watch Karan Arjun; and a Caucasian servant “Ramu Kaka” by his side. NRIs clap. The comedian, like his comic track, belong to the ‘90s. So do this film’s makers.

Hero Abhishek Bachchan finally leads a team again to get gold back from the villain’s New Zealand den. This group, with a ‘pouty’ new member, Victor’s daughter (Sonam Kapoor), also has a traitor among its ranks, who’s out to screw up the plans.

This seems true for the hero’s films as well. He inevitably picks the right directors. Budgets are in place. Yet, something or someone or the other does him in!

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  3. Entertainment INR 73 cr.
  4. Kick INR 234 cr.
  5. Pizza INR 4.2 cr.

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