How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Location: India

Saturday, October 08, 2005


I watched this recently released film on the computer yesterday, and was really impressed with it. Debutant director Kabeer Kaushik has really made a hard-hitting film on the UP mafia raj (in itself a refreshing subject after so many movies on the Mumbai underworld). This is a timely film, for the state of UP is going to the dogs, given the horrific law and order situation.

The film's timeframe is 1997-98, and is about newly appointed SSP, Lucknow, Ajay Kumar (played brilliantly by Arshad Warsi), who gets to know the sheer ruthlessness of rival UP mafias. Internal mafia politics, aided and abetted by politicians, mean that the star of Gajraj Singh, alias Gajju Bhaiya, (played superbly by Sushant Singh) is rising. He breaks the old order of clearly demarcated boundaries of various gangs with respect to region, target activities, etc., by killing off rival gang leaders and establishing his varchasva (an effectively used word in the film) over the crime world. Realizing the enormity of the challenge, Ajay convinces his superior and also the CM of establishing a Special Task Force for cracking down on organized crime. Systematic attack on Gajraj's and other gangs shakes their foundations, but they fight back and several valiant STF officers lay down their lives. The film culminates in a gunfight on a train where Gajraj and Ajay are both killed.

Kabeer Kaushik shows the rot in the political, administrative, and law enforcement setup in the state very realistically. The scene in the beginning where Ajay first meets his superior is excellent. The ADG tells him the Lucknow that was by referring to a shop called Avadh Thandai which said on its name-board: 'zaraa muskuraaiye kyonki aap Lakhnau men hain'. At that moment, he receives a call from the secretary to the CM, and is forced to break the meeting. Looking meaningfully at Ajay, he says: 'Welcome to Lucknow'. The hell that is Lucknow University at election time (and otherwise) is shown, as is recruiting done by the mafia from the students' ranks. The shots of Lucknow town and various familiar places, very nicely shot, make it particularly interesting for us here at IIML. Overall, the (almost) no-nonsense and realistic character of the film makes an impact.

The performances are superb; not only from Arshad Warsi (he should really stop playing sidey to people like Salman Khan), Sushant Singh (he displays the required ruthlessness and wilfulness excellently) and Pankaj Kapur (as an old academic who becomes part of the STF because of his ability of tracking the newly introduced cell phones), but also from the supporting cast (Warsi's mother, the ADG, the STF members, the sidekick of politician Mishra, etc.). It was a pleasure to see old TV veterans like Rajendra Singh and Ravi Jhankal after a long time. The romantic diversion with Mahima Chaudhary is quite unnecessary. Ajay's personal life is shown adequately in his reminiscences of the past (his father had committed suicide after a court martial in the Army), and in his interactions with his mother. The dialogues are also very well-written, the old and sweet tongue (of Warsi's mother) and the new, rough, dehaatii tongue (of the gangsters) used appropriately. Overall, a film worth watching as congratulation to a commendable first act of the director.