When a bunch of middlemen use words like ‘maal’ and ‘delivery’ we could be forgiven for thinking that they are referring to the delivery of some goods. They are referring to a delivery all right, but it is a hostage that is being delivered...

By Sudha Mukerjee (Contributor)

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Published: Sat 3 Dec 2005, 11:42 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 6:09 PM


Cast: Ajay Devgan, Nana Patekar etc

Music: Aadesh Shrivastava

Writer-Producer-Director: Prakash Jha

Kidnapping is treated as a business like any other — indeed, it has become a flourishing industry — and one that disillusioned Ajay Shastri (Ajay Devgan) is drawn to when his dreams of becoming a police officer turn sour. Ruthless politicians (Nana Patekar as Tabrez and Chetan Pandit as Pandey, the home minister) rule while their cohorts like Gaya (Yashpal Sharma) operate from the confines of a prison. Writer-producer-director Prakash Jha, whose credits include Damul, Mrityudand and Gangaajal, explores the nexus between criminals, cops and politicians, and it’s a sincere shot from the offbeat filmmaker.

Set in Bihar, Apaharan does not boast of Alpine locales, gimmicks or technical pyrotechnics. Jha concentrates on the story and performances, and apart from a solo song does not dilute his narrative. The characters on the whole are believable but the proceedings get confusing now and then. With a surfeit of baddies, there are moments when we have trouble remembering who belongs to which camp, who works for whom. Also, the hero’s transformation from meek, part-time medical representative (hoping to join the police force) tobrutal kidnapping kingpin is overly pat and easy. The small-town ambience too falters at times, unless small towns these days actually have such slinky nightclubs with even more slinky dancers.

It’s a good show from the ensemble cast. Ajay Devgan, Nana Patekar, Yashpal Sharma, Mohan Agashe (as the hero’s principled father who unwittingly pushes his son towards crime) and Mukesh Tiwari (as an honest police officer) pitch in equally efficient efforts. A deglamorised Bipasha Basu — who has very little to do — alternates between looks of concern and bewilderment.

With the government recently changing hands in Bihar and fresh hopes for a better tomorrow, Apaharan is certainly topical but despite the gravity of the issue — not just the kidnappings but the total breakdown of law and order — the depiction is not hard-hitting enough. It’s a terrifying scenario that should have chilled a lot more than it does. Still, Prakash Jha’s heart is in the right place and he deserves credit for tacklinga complex issue and telling it as honestly as he can.

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