Players – Movie Review


Go for Gold, but please don’t dig for it in your nose, which I literally did as the movie went on and on for nearly 3 hours.

First of all, for the bottomline driven – it’s a 2/5 stars for this Abbas-Mustan directed desi rip-off of the Italian Job. And both stars are reserved only for the director-duo who dress like Jeetendra, and usually make tadakedar spaghetti noodles in shudh desi ghee. But this time it’s the 3rd Burmawala brother (the editor), who loses out on an additional star due to the 30 minute overtime.

Plot & Direction:

The storyline stays partially true to the original, only to the extent of being a heist by a motley team of thieves (oops..Players), with a renegade lurking in the shadows. The 1st half is an entertaining straight-laced robbery of a trainload worth of gold, headed from Russia to Romania (Keralites in the movie hall moaned orgasmically, everytime the shine sparkled on screen). Btw, some random world war 1 angle has been inserted to intellectualize a basic ‘chor pe mor’ movie. The 2nd half is where it starts falling apart, as the movie boils down to a long-drawn revenge saga with several inane twists.

It’s not as slick as the original because of the copious bursts of drama, comedy & music forced in, to try and make it a masala poppadom flick.  Only some areas are well covered like the cinematography and beautiful Russian snowy locales. Also a few of the scenes are hilarious (whether they are meant to be or not is a debate, reserved for some other day). Examples: 1) Bipasha Basu adding boosters on the top of a dilapidated train to make it zoom faster! OR 2) Johny Lever’s servant as a Kiwi gora – Ramu Kaka who serves chai, draped in a dada kondke get-up. OR 3) The Russian cribbing about how Indians want to have a song routine, even before having sex. 

Overall, the movie would’ve worked much better as a pure thriller, without these formulaic paraphernalia.

Acting:

Abbas-Mustan has probably managed to pick up a collage of the worst acting talent available in Bollywood and pasted them together on a single screen. Who in his right frame of mind casts Bobby Deol film after film, for those half-closed eyes as an only effort at expression. He certainly doesn’t disappoint with the consistent Arnold-meets-SunnyDeol terminator look as the illusionist of the team. Thankfully, he’s bumped off after some time in the movie, never to be brought back again.


It’s also unbelievable to fathom that this is the same Abhishek Bacchan who gave us Yuva and Guru. He does Dhoom2 all over again, just that he’s the leader of a pack on the other side of law now. He gets maximum screen time, but as Neil rubs it in every few minutes – ‘How Predictable!’… The only impressive performance of the lot is Neil Nitin Mukesh – his third negative portrayal after Johnny Gadar and Saat Khoon Maaf. His effort is laudable, especially once he starts showing his true colors. (He just needs to tan himself a bit more, lest he wants to make his career playing pale, white ghosts in Vikram Bhatt movies)

The computer hacker, Sonam Kapoor’s acting is certainly inspired by her dad. Unfortunately, she chose MI4 for the inspiration where probably Mr. Kapoor was at his worst ever. Her dialogue delivery and acting here, are pedestrian. The automobile expert Bipasha plays her regular bikini babe self, prancing on both sides of the fence. Of the supporting cast, the trapezium-faced Sikandar Kher is ok as the deaf bomb expert and Omi Vaidya provides comic relief in his failed actor-turned-prosthetic expert act.

Vinod Khanna looks jaded playing the Einsteinian guru of all thieves. It’s unintentionally funny to see him being treated like an ACP by the entire police force! That leaves us with Abbas-Mustan’s man friday, Johhny Lever who unfortunately is also an old shadow of his former self, both as MC and BC. (Yeah, he plays a pair of twins named such!) Most of his gags are force-fed to the audience, though couple of them do bring about a chuckle.

Recommendation

Go watch it if you don’t catch up on too many Hollywood movies and you’ll come back reasonably satisfied. Else, give it a skip and catch the Italian Job re-run on HBO some Friday night!

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