Bang, bang goes the gang

PEOPLE IN Mumbai still talk of that fateful day in 1991 when the elite Mumbai Anti Terrorism squad led by Aftab Ahmad Khan gunned down five members of the underworld holed up in a building in the sprawling Lokhandwala Complex in Andheri.

By Ambica Sachin (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Fri 25 May 2007, 10:43 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 12:32 AM

It went down in the history of Mumbai police as one of their most long-drawn out and controversial 'encounters'.

Sixteen years later comes Apoorva Lakhia's version of the events, Bollywood style. But to be fair, Shootout at Lokhandwala could not have been timed better. Especially when the very term ‘encounter’ is being debated across all Indian television channels and when the distinction between those who instill terror in people and those meant to protect them are blurring.

So what makes Shootout different from the umpteen other Bollywood films made so far on the same subject?

Nothing much actually, except for the film's catchline — 'Based on true rumours'. And let's not forget the star cast led by Amitabh Bachchan whose baritone voice is put to full use as former chief justice, Advocate Dhingra, who headed the first enquiry commission into the incident. Sanjay Dutt as ACP SS Khan also plays true to form, as a duty bound officer with no time for his family. Bachchan junior puts in a 'special' appearance as a daredevil cop, a role which could easily have been played by any other actor.

But as is the want in Bollywood, it is the underworld goon Viveik Oberoi who packs in a punch as Dawood's aid, Maya, in a character that seems like a run-on of the one he played in Company. The actor better watch out if he doesn’t want to end up specialising in the ‘bhai’ role, though admittedly he makes a mean bhai! Amrita Singh in a cameo makes her return to the silver screen after a hiatus and churns out a strong performance as Maya’s domineering and ambitious mother.

Due credits to Ronit Roy and Shabbir Ahluwalia who as Maya’s sidekicks really get into the skin of their character.

The same, however, cannot be said of Tusshar Kapoor — and we all know why he’s in the movie, (just take a look at the credits). For a man who supposedly plays the role of a ‘psycho’, suffice to say there isn’t anything scary about him.

Dia Mirza seems totally miscast as the ‘feisty’ reporter. All she does is doll up for the camera, deliver a couple of sentences and ruin it all with a smile even while recounting the most horrific terror acts. And to think that all she had to do was switch on any one of the dozen television channels to learn how real reporters behave. And are we expected to believe that hers is the only TV crew to cover all the mayhem created by the underworld in Mumbai in the 90s?

Aarthi Chabria looks her part as bar dancer Tarranum (a real inspired name, must say) though she does act a bit coy for a woman who makes her living by entertaining men. In true Sanjay Gupta style, (recollect Kaante) there is the slow motion walk done to death in this film too accompanied by a background score that begins to jar especially when you just want to concentrate on the action onscreen. There is plenty of violence and guns are drawn and bullets fired without any discrimination throughout the film. References to the Big Bhai in Dubai is also thrown in for good measure. But for these filmi intrusions, Shootout would have been a classic film on Mumbai’s underworld.

There are times when you are left wondering if it is ACP Khan you should be rooting for or the violent egocentric Maya. Most films on the underworld end up romanticising the bad guys. But just when you think Shootout is going down the same path, it ends with a succinct question that ironically enough answers all your doubts.

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