Kaminey has easily been the best reviewed movie of recent times among the Bollywood lot. Almost all the reviewers have been unanimous in their rating of the movie, and have been unabashed in their praises. Clearly, everyone seems to agree that Vishal Bharadwaj has a masterpiece on his hands. And Shahid Kapoor has arrived.
Amidst all the euphoria and with great expectations, I watched Kaminey here in Singapore. Incidentally, this is my first movie in a theatre here for over a year, thanks to our little son who threatens to embarrass us every time we attempt to parade him in public.
Since the plot and the characters have been described in lurid details in myriad reviews, I’ll save myself and the readers the trouble. Instead, I’ll play the critic.
The movie, undoubtedly, is in a genre of its own. Or if you include Hollywood, this would be the Quentin Tarantino genre. Slick, crisp, pacy, hard-hitting and very contemporary. The movie runs at such a frenetic pace that you don’t want to even sneak out for a toilet break, lest you miss the excitement. Shahid Kapoor as the lisping Charlie is a revelation. His “mein fuh ko fuh bolta hu” is seriously funny, because of the nonchalant dialogue delivery. The character has a certain consistency which very few other Bollywood characters have had. Including his twin brother Guddu, the stutterer.
Guddu, at times, seems to forget his stutter, and cannot convey his angst effectively enough to convince the audience why he detested girls “because they made fun of him”. And Priyanka Chopra’s Sweety, as sweet as she is, seems contrived in her attempt to pretence-stutter to gain Guddu’s love. The whole sub-plot seems inane. Especially Guddu ranting away on Sweety soon after their marriage when he discovers she never really had a stuttering problem.
Despite these minor shortcomings, the movie manages to keep the audience’s glued to their seats, thanks to the eclectic mix of characters that contribute to the plots. Tope Bhau as the gangster-aspiring-to-be-politician is an interesting take on the Raj Thackeray brand of “Marathi Manoos” politics. The Portuguese (or was he Latino?) drug lord and his African henchmen, at best, add to the melee in the end. The Bengali brothers provide some twisted humor, and also jump in to the fray along with everyone else, and their dads, in a “Priyadarshanesque” climax. Which I personally felt let down by.
All in all, a dark movie in the Tarantino mould, with in-your-face dialogues and dance-along music, aided by a sharp story-telling style and crisp editing. If only the director had resisted the temptation to make caricatures of the characters, and cleaned up the cluttered plot just a bit, Kaminey could have gone beyond being just a good film and qualified for a classic.
Alas, it doesn’t, and you come out of the theatre with an empty feeling.
My verdict- Kaminey is like a racy One Night Stand. Been there, done that, walked away, blanked it out.