Mayank Shekhar's Review: Knock Out


By Hindustan Times

Director: Mani Shankar
Actors: Sanjay Dutt, Irrfan Khan
Rating: *1/2

The phone booth was both an important instrument for communication, and a popular Joel Schumacher film in the early 2000s. Much in the world has changed since. But for plagiarism in Bollywood! Knock Out is a Hollywood knock-off. And that’s the least of its sins. A smartly suited investment banker (Irrfan Khan; poor guy, has to scope the West for more original work: The Namesake, Slumdog Millionaire, A Mighty Heart…) is stuck to a PCO phone here. Voice on the other line is supposedly a “reflection of his dark conscience, sum total of his life of crime and guilt”. It isn’t clear who the gentleman (Sanjay Dutt) speaking to him is. He has seven satellites tracking the area for his close-circuit camera. It isn’t clear either if he’s after the suit because he date-raped a girl, is unfaithful to his wife, has helped fund a child trafficking racket, has treated women like objects… Suspense is instantly infused. So could some sense. So you wish.

The fellow on the phone knows intimate details of his target’s life. To scare him up further, once in a while, he shoots into the phone booth. Bullets penetrate through glass, making finely concentric circles. The busy office district, what looks like Mumbai’s Bandra-Kurla complex, remains unaware of theses gun-shots, until the spot becomes a circus.

The reporter on the spot (Kangna Ranaut), suitably ‘tarted’ up for television, knows even before the police does, that the man behind the glass door is politically connected. Her editor wants her to play down the story. Cops don’t ask for reinforcements. They stand around helpless. Nation is hooked to live television. Dead body lies on the floor. Mayhem cannot be measured. Chaos is complete.

The voice on the phone then instructs the political henchman to transfer public funds siphoned off into Swiss banks by his political bosses. The suit at the phone booth sits down with his laptop fitted to his Reliance data card, gets into the Swiss bank account, and transfers black money into Reserve Bank treasury. Rs 500 crore after another of public fund is deposited back to the government. Crowds cheer on.

No redemption’s necessary. The man who held the city to ransom goes scot-free. Ends justify means. The bomb and the gun can wipe out corruption. Audiences release their hatred for politicians the way they vented out against terrorists in the terribly exploitative A Wednesday. “This is not breaking news, it's the news of the year,” says the hot India TV reporter. Huh. You bet!