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Monday, June 4, 2007

Shootout at Lokhandwala – Movie

Of the recent crop of Hindi movies to hit the big screen, Shootout at Lokhandwala stands out. The film is replete with graphic violence à la Tarantino, making the same not only easier to stomach, but actually adding to the entertainment value. The soundtrack totally rocks, being the best I’ve heard in recent times. And the main villains are endearingly played by Vivek Oberoi and Tusshar Kapoor.

Vivek’s debut film, Company, was a huge hit, with him playing a hoodlum, a role for which he spent extensive time in a Bombay slum. He does the tough-guy role really well, although his million-dollar smile betrays his true and privileged background. Indeed, in subsequent films, he has done well at romance and comedy. Saathiya and Masti stand out. A good dancer who is definitely not hard to look at, his ultimate charm is that what he has, he dispenses sparingly, but to outstanding effect.

When I first saw a movie with Tusshar Kapoor, I found him to be rather nondescript. But as I’ve seen him in more and more, he’s actually grown on me quite a bit. He’s an excellent dancer, and has a very unpretentious air about him. I reckon his success will continue to grow.

All the song sequences in Shootout at Lokhandwala are done by the villains, and their energetic and aggressive cavorting to catchy and rhythmic numbers are easily the high points of the film. Vivek and Tusshar also have superb onscreen chemistry.

That the producer and lead actor, Sanjay Dutt, would endeavor to make a movie that is based on “true rumors” surrounding the criminal underworld that pulled off the 1993 Bombay Bombings, is noteworthy in itself. The blasts were apparently revenge for the 1991 destruction of the Babri mosque by Hindu extremists. Riots ensued, most viciously in Bombay, and ironically, most of the victims turned out to be Muslims. Dawood Ibrahim, leader of the Bombay Mafia, in his Muslim piety, activated his links with the Lakshar-e-Toiba and al Qaida terrorist outfits.

Sanjay Dutt, a most secular Muslim, is known to have had contacts with underworld figures, at very least on the level of movie financing, in which their involvement is well known. From here, apparently, in the wake of the riots, Sanjay took delivery of some pretty serious illegal weapons. Indeed, he was arrested and convicted on such charges, and remains on probation to this day.

Shootout at Lokhandwala is about the Bombay police unit that went after underworld figures linked to Dawood Ibrahim in 1991, using the most heavy-handed brutality. Their methods could clearly be described as human rights violations. Sanjay Dutt plays the commanding officer of this unit, who was charged with the atrocities stemming from the event that gives the film its name. The shootout annihilated the entire gang in question. At the end of the movie, his character is acquitted. Nevertheless, the denouement text on the screen implies that the Anti-terror Squad’s subsequent disbandment, at least indirectly, contributed to the 1993 Bombings, as there were no longer competent police resources to take on the most dangerous underworld figures in a manner effective enough to stop them.

It seems to me that Sanjay Dutt has used this excellent film as a soapbox to completely deny involvement in the underworld and terrorism. I cannot judge to what extent this is true, but suffice it to say that while he may have gotten a raw deal in court, the complete disavowal rings somewhat hollow. That said, go see the film!

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