Sunday, April 17, 2005


Another gangster movie, you groan as Sanjay F. Gupta’s Karam gets underway. And this one has pretensions! Using influences from Hollywood to Japanese Yazuka movies, Gupta (similar style, but not to be mistaken for the namesake who last made Musafir) makes a film as stylish as it is tedious. Pity all the technicians slogging over backend work in animation and Fx to produce this turkey—because their work is excellent, the movie just doesn’t match up.

It must be de rigueur for all these laddish filmmakers post Ramgopal Varma to pay their tribute to the gangster epics of Coppola, Scorsese etc., before they embark on their careers as directors, or why pick such an overdone plot?

John (John Abraham) kills a child during a botched shootout and gets pangs of remorse. He wants to retire, but his crazy boss Captain (Bharat Dhabolkar) wants him to bump off his enemies before allowing him to go off into the sunset, so he kidnaps John’s chatterbox wife Shalini (Priyanka Chopra). Actually, the audience is rather relieved that locking her up makes her stop her endless prattle about types of flooring in her house by the sea.

But John is forced to take up the job and goes about it efficiently, while Inspector Wagh (Shiney Ahuja) tries to nab him. Though how a don becomes so powerful with just one assassin in his coterie is not clear.

First all Gupta starts the movie by giving away the ending—fatal error. Then he makes the ‘hero’ and his buddies look dull, but makes the warring dons totally outrageous – Captain lives in a white house with a long red carpet and red Japanese wall hangings and goes about swinging a sword like a kid playing at being a Samurai. Captain’s henchman is a fat ‘suited-booted’ guy out of an Italian mafia movie. His enemy Yunus (Viswajeet Pradhan) is a long-haired junkie transvestite. Of course, one killing has to be set in a nightclub! How can there be an Indian gangster movie without an item number.

Gupta is a cinematographer himself, and used to make music videos – so the film is full of black and white sequences, slow motion shots, an animation scene and music video imagery. The Tera Karam song is fabulously picturised, but all this sloshing around buckets of style in a film with no substance (thin plot, no character development, no conflict, no point of view) is a waste of effort. And the violence is stomach-churning.

Makes you laugh when Shalini solemnly says, “John kehte the”, as if John were a prophet not a hitman… and one who mumbles a few lines through the film, none of which sound like quotable quotes.

John Abraham’s considerable on screen charisma is not enough to make even his Dhoom fans suffer this film. Of the rest of the cast, only Shiney Ahuja attempts to do something with his tiny part.

Enough of cops-and-dons sagas, please?


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