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John Day review: Flimsy plot, fine performances!

Movie:
John Day
Director:
Ahishor Solomon
Cast:
Naseeruddin Shah, Shernaz Patel, Randeep Hooda, Vipin Sharma
Avg user rating:

This is a thriller where the ride is what matters, not the destination.

The central plot, in short, fails to engage you. What does intermittently hold your attention are the characters, often capable of extreme violence, and their equations with each other.

The film, a copy of Spanish film Box 507 (2002), has John Day (Naseeruddin Shah) mourning the loss of his daughter. That she had lied to her parents and gone for a holiday with her boyfriend when she died, makes the mother (Shernaz Patel) inconsolable. What if she had not allowed her to go, the mother keeps imagining.

When John Day discovers some accidental facts about the death— one that involves several bigwigs, he decides to get to the bottom of things. He starts by making enquiries, bribing people for information and keeping track on some coveted documents.

Suspended cop Gautam (Randeep Hooda), who hobnobs with the underworld honchos and lives in a plush pad, has been given a new assignment. He has to get those coveted documents in exchange for a fat sum. And so the race to get those mysterious documents begins.

The plot meanders around the file, a fake company, the underworld and politicians. It all gets pretty weary, and the pace remains too measured for a thriller.

However, there are several moments that completely hold your attention. The one where the cop feeds a man biryani upon biryani to make a point, and the beginning of the film where the young kids are swimming in the lake and you’re certain something’s going to happen to them.

The violence is omnipresent and almost glorified. Especially in the toxic relationship between Gautam and his alcoholic girlfriend, whom he often hits. He’s pretty trigger-happy and can bite off people’s tongues when really upset. His constantly raging situation is thrown back to his childhood where he was raped by someone he trusted. And in a touching scene, his insane anger when he comes across another pedophile seems almost justified.

Randeep Hooda is fairly good as the conniving, violent and brooding Gautam, who hates the world and is convinced the world reciprocates.

The genial John Day’s turn towards the second half is less convincing. But perhaps a desperate-for-answers person could be driven to such behavior. In any case, his motive of ‘I’ll make sure everybody pays for this’ comes too late into the movie.

Naseeruddin Shah makes you feel for the character, and is masterful in the first half. Sadly, the film and consequently his performance lose steam towards the finale.

Vipin Sharma as Gautam’s assistant is a delight. Shernaz Patel is dependably fab.

The dialogue is serviceable, with occasional arresting lines. Like the cop’s assistant saying that it was Amitabh Bachchan in Zanjeer that made him join the force, confessing that “corrupt kab ho gaya, pata hi nahin chala” (I didn’t even know, when I became corrupt).

Prakash Kutty’s cinematography is crisp and the sound design is superb.

Perplexingly, director Ahishor Solomon debuts with a film that’s a rip-off. And that’s just sad. We do expect more of our debuting, contemporary filmmakers!

Despite that, the film remains an average thriller. The fundamental plot doesn’t have meat, but the performances and a few gripping moments get you by.

Rating: Two stars

 

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