Saturday, March 21, 2015


Crash And Burn

It’s an inspiring story—of an ordinary Maharashtrian who invented the first aircraft in 1895, eight years before the Wright Brothers. But it has been made in such a clunky, uninspired fashion, that it turns out to be a waste of a great idea.

The struggle to fulfill an impossible dream would have been good enough if narrated with the right blend of imagination and emotions, but director Vibhu Puri takes frequent diversions into romance, scriptures and patriotism (with the usual evil caricature Brits), and makes a right royal mess, though it is a beautiful-looking one (shot by Savita Singh). However, a period film does not mean overstuffed interiors and a flea market look.

Shivkar Talpade (Ayushmann Khurrana) is what is known in today’s lingo, a loser. He has flunks repeatedly and is at the same academic level as his nephew (a bright Naman Jain). Then he falls in love with a dancer, Sitara (Pallavi Sharda) and gets thrown out of the house by his furious father. He is taken under the wing of eccentric scholar Shastri (Mithun Chakraborty), who dreams of making a plane, so that the first man who flies is a “Hindustani.”

The British not just want to stop him, but also want to get their hands on an ancient book that has instructions for building an aircraft (we are now constantly being told that everything was first discovered or invented by Indians in the distant past, so it’s not even possible to keep a straight face!) Instead of the excitement of actually seeing the prototype of an aircraft built, the film wastes time over too many songs (not one hummable number among them) and ends with rabble-rousing Vande Mataram-chanting nationalism.

Ayushmann Khurrana plays Talpade as mentally retarded, instead of a misunderstood genius, while Mithun Chakraborty’s weird get-up doesn’t help his performance any.

The story is heavily fictionalised, to the extent that it is rendered ridiculous. The recent release, The Imitation Man, was about the dry as dust subject of code breaking, but what an absorbing film it was. Puri is just unable to build on the germ of the idea, and ends up boring the audience over its seemingly endless running time. A better filmmaker would have had the viewer come out of the theatre awed and suitably proud about the achievements of a self-made Indian inventor. Pity, the real story will now never be told. 


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