Friday, June 04, 2004


Aan: Men At Work sounds like the BMC crews digging trenches! This Madhur Bhandarkar film, inspired by a series of cops-vs-dons films the last of which were Khakee and Ab Tak Chappan, has a bored, seen-it-all look to it. Though there are some good action sequences, there’s nothing really novel about the film.

The opening scene, with a don Yusuf Pathan (Irrfan Khan) sitting in his hideout by a railway station, talking of extorting from this builder and ‘tapkaoing’ that businessman, is so Ram Gopal Varma. The rest of the film proceeds in the same dreary vein.

Aan purports to take the side of the cops and actually makes a plea for encounter killings (if cops spare criminals, they’ll get killed by them eventually), bribe-taking (how is a cop to make ends meet otherwise?), and so on, going over familiar gangster-politician-businessman nexus. The police force—in spite of one traitor—comes out smelling of roses. When it comes to the crunch, the Commissioner can decimate the corrupt home minister.

Mumbai’s Crime Branch, consisting of Vikram Singh (Shatrughan Sinha), Appa Naik (Suniel Shetty) and Khaled Ansari (Paresh Rawal) and a bunch of faceless extras, are a cheerful trigger-happy bunch, routinely conducting ‘encounters’, till their new boss Hari Om Patnaik (Akshay Kumar, Oriya cop with Punjabi accent) gives them a lesson in human rights. Then paan-chewing, wise-cracking Khaled gets killed and Patnaik has an instant change-of-heart.

The cops spend their time running around the minister Manik Rao (Manoj Joshi), an industrialist Walia (Jackie Shroff) and Pathan. Rival gangsters, hawala dealers and opposition parties are mentioned perfunctorily, as a couple of ‘item’ numbers are thrown in to complete the boring picture.

Yawn then, as Pathan’s brother kills an industrialist (Milind Gunaji), gets killed in turn, and triggers off a cops and gangsters war. Look at Appa battling the hoods in grey monochrome, contrasting with bright Ganpati festivities outside. An oriental martial arts fella is brought in for Akshay Kumar to show off his skills. Things just descend into violent mayhem, which is peppered with the most vulgar jokes heard on film in a long time. The censors bleeped out minor cusswords, but let the cheap sexist gags pass!

For the heck of it, there are three leading ladies, who have nothing to do—including Raveena Tandon playing a high class hooker who suddenly acquires scruples after Vikram lectures her.

Can’t blame the actors for the mess, all of them do their parts well. Bombastic lines, plenty of shoot-outs and a complete lack of any emotional element (when two of the team get killed the others behave as if it’s the first time a cop died on duty!) may get the ‘tapori’ crowd, but will keep out the discerning audiences.


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