Sarit Ray's review: Aurangzeb



Direction: Atul Sabharwal
Actors: Arjun Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Sasheh Agha, Prithviraj
Rating: **

Back in the ’60s — when classics like Hum Dono (1961) and Ram Aur Shyam (1967) were made —it must have been a thrilling experience for moviegoers to see an actor face his other self on screen. But to make the double role the focal point of a film in an age of 3D, which is as familiar with it as it is with a tub of popcorn, requires either a reversal of clichés or a mind-blowing story. Unfortunately, Aurangzeb provides neither.

Instead, debutant director Atul Sabharwal invests too much time and too many characters in building intrigue through the first half. In the second, the overburdened story meanders and comes apart even as bullet-riddled characters sputter, cough and die after showing a remarkable lack of the survival instinct.

The setting is the real-estate jungle of Gurgaon. A family of corrupt police officers wants to bring down a family of gangsters who are colluding with politicians and builders. Nothing you wouldn’t believe. Until a hushed-up past comes to the fore and brings an unlikely coincidence — the gangster Yashwar-dhan’s (Jackie Shroff) son, Ajay, and look alike Vishal (both Arjun Kapoor).

The film’s title might have led you to expect a deliciously etched Machiavellian protagonist. Instead, the central character suffers from clichés — of character and circumstance — rendering him predictable. Arjun, however, holds his own. Never-been-styled hair notwithstanding (the script excuses only one lookalike from a salon visit), the boy can emote. That his two characters aren’t distinct enough is more the script’s limitation, less his.

The character that rises beyond expectations is that of DCP Ravikant (Rishi Kapoor). Kapoor is the pick of the performers, playing the unflinchingly self-serving top cop.

In a typical, unfortunate nod to old-school Bollywood, the women have little or no voice. They swim in bikinis and gyrate to seduce the hero and the audience, or play scheming home wreckers.

Meanwhile, characters die foolishly, not before mouthing tiresome one-liners. At one point, a Mexican standoff in a room full of real-estate investors tries to be earnest but looks caricature-ish. The film has that in common with the set piece it ruins. It lasts till the bullets are over. And we’re not hoping for a reload.