By Hindustan Times
Director: YP Singh
Actors: Rajiv Ruda, Bobby Vats
A hammy waiter at a party suddenly grits his teeth, growls, scowls, runs towards a senior police officer’s wife to grab a piece of jewellery from her neck. The fellow’s picked up by the cops after. At the interrogation, he reveals that necklace was actually his wife’s. He’d pawned it off at a gambling den. She’d committed suicide. The piece of jewellery had made it to the police officer’s home, passed on as hafta (weekly protection tax) by the gambling den. The said officer is the superintendent of police (SP) of a small-town Jalgaon. Shaken by the story, both him and his wife swear they’ll never take bribes after this!
This is the opening sequence. Which has nothing to do with the rest of the film. You’ll probably switch it off, if this movie was playing on your TV. But the loss will be yours. The pic does get much better from hereon.
It’s set right at the heart of Indian Police Service (IPS), with the sort of detailing of its protocols, postings and systems that you don’t even expect, let alone get, from Hindi films. Despite thousands of movies with cops as characters, audiences can hardly tell between an officer and an inspector.
Two IPS recruits from the Maharashtra cadre – one, a corrupt senior, additional commissioner of police (Addl. CP); the other, an honest, upright newbie, deputy commissioner of police (DCP) – make for the film’s central characters.
Both are at present serving the Mumbai police. The going rate for the Addl. CP’s post, by the way, is up to Rs 1 crore. Middlemen fix such deals. An industrialist “sponsors” it. The politician accepts it. The cop (Bobby Vats) naturally works for all, besides his own financial and sexual needs. Those serving under him comply. In this case, the young DCP (Rajiv Rudy) doesn’t. He has a name to make for himself, laws to protect. There’s much less competition where the young recruit’s ambitions lie. But the problems before him are insurmountable.
What we become privy to then is a system that from its innards is morally compromised. The commissioner is a doddering old man: head-down, hands folded, trembling with fear before his state’s home minister. Like him, his boss, the director general of police, literally sits on the politician’s feet. As do most of the bureaucracy, from the IAS (the I Am Sorry or I Am Slave service). Everyone’s only job, is to somehow, keep their job. With this much politicking around, you wonder when any of the real work ever gets done.
The filmmaker here is an insider. He once served the same force. You can tell. He brings a familiar, recognisable face to a complex problem. Which is heartening to see. So far, mass and social media has positioned corruption as a disease that demons suffer from that a Lord Lokpal from another planet will help cure with a magic wand. You wish things were as clear and simple as Anna Hazare’s preachings.
The young DCP uses questionable, rash means to go after nightclubs, errant doctors, stockbrokers. Bureaucrats and politicians go after him instead. Crime branch is the garbage bin for all sensitive cases: fill it, shut it, forget it. Networks are inter-connected. “Ghamand” and “lalach” (greed and arrogance) remain the incurable, collective vices.
The bleak scenes before us are a fine exposé on that. Unfortunately they don’t quite add up to a feature film, in its finely skilled, preciously technical craft. Assemblage of some of the world’s worst over-actors will worry you, editing’s patchy, sound’s screwed up, art-work's third rate, cinematography’s amateurish. Some of the most crucial scenes are shot before a chroma screen. The research and script are solid still. This is sad. Most other movies suffer from exactly the opposite problem.