Vishal Bhardwaj pulls off a Guy Ritchie. Wear your seat belt and prepare for the ride of your life
From the first shot, Kaminey takes you by the scruff of the neck and rushes you through a 132-minute breakneck journey and leaves you panting at the end. It’s like rush hour at Churchgate station where you don’t really have to walk because the crowd just pushes you right from the train all the way up to Nariman Point. The bravura cinematography—almost entirely hand-held camerawork—and razor-sharp editing provide even faster speed to the story that takes place over a period of 24 hours in the Mumbai monsoon.
The plot, you ask? It’s too complicated to explain. Let’s just say it’s about two twins, one pregnant girlfriend, three underworld gangs, two corrupt policemen, two Angolans, and Rs 10 crore worth of cocaine. Yes, Kaminey is a Guy Ritchie film, but one that is perfectly situated in the Hindi film industry tradition.
The music is a homage to the good old 1970s. A Qurbani song plays on the TV in a hotel room as two petty crooks beat up a corrupt bookie. And the use of dhan te dan—the iconic sound that began every action sequence in the 1970s, a motif that’s as silly as it was enjoyable—both in the music score and as a song is a stroke of genius.
The acting is brilliant, and debutantes like Amole Gupte as the Maharashtrian crime lord, Tenzing Nima as the Tibetan drug czar and Chandan Roy Sanyal as Mikhail, the Bengali crazy, are brilliant. And both Shahid Kapur and Priyanka Chopra have never acted so well before. As small-time crook Charlie, Shahid is muscle-bound and looks very tough. As goodie-goodie Guddu, he hides his muscles and is the perfect helpless common man. Kaminey is finely and lovingly detailed: as a crooked cop dies, he falls on a sign that reads ‘For Hire’, Guddu’s toilet door has pictures of sexy women and ‘Apna Haath Jagannath’ written on it. I think I’ll see Kaminey again.
Sandipan Deb is an IIT-IIM graduate who wandered into journalism after reading a quote from filmmaker George Lucas — “Everyone cage door is open” — and has stayed there (in journalism, not a cage) for the past 19 years. He has written a book on the IITs.