Cop films offer a glimpse into one of the most dangerous and unpredictable jobs in the world. Also, cop films seem to bring out the best in most directors, who try to make the film more realistic and gritty.
Rajkumar Santoshi's latest offering Khakee is tough, electrifying and explosive. It is one of the most exhilarating thrillers to reach the screen in recent memory.
Khakee scores points at almost all levels, except… More about that later!
From the acidic comments on corruption in the system, to the tense and fast-paced action sequences, to the twists and turns in the story [the pre-climax will catch you unaware], it delivers what it promises.
What started as a routine mission of shifting an ISI terrorist Iqbal Ansari [Atul Kulkarni] from Chandangadh to Mumbai ended as a nightmare. The first escort team of police officers was ambushed midway, blown to bits. But a brave officer managed to ensure that Ansari did not escape.
Now another team was being sent to do this job from Mumbai.
This crucial assignment was given to DCP Anant [Amitabh Bachchan]. The officer was a failure in the eyes of the establishment and more importantly, in his own. This was his only chance to prove himself.
Street-smart, brave but rotten to the core, Sr. Inspector Shekhar [Akshay Kumar], for whom the lines between good and bad, right and wrong had blurred a long time ago, was also forced on this mission. He didn't want to be a part of this mission, but had no choice.
The third on the list was Sub-Inspector Ashwin [Tusshar Kapoor], a young officer on his first serious assignment. He was going to find out the hard way that there was a massive difference between training school and the ground reality of the harsh, corrupt and a violent world out there.
These three officers accompanied by two constables were now given the charge of escorting the dreaded terrorist from Chandangadh to Mumbai. But someone out there didn't want them to get to Mumbai.
A nameless, faceless enemy, who was always one step ahead of them and would do all he could to stop them, was proving a stumbling block.
The difference between Khakee and numerous other, more routine films of the genre begins with the script. Smart, insightful and consistently engaging, Rajkumar Santoshi and Sridhar Raghavan's screenplay is a treat for anyone who views films as a medium for both art and entertainment.
The film is filled with several twists and turns, but not so many that the plot becomes difficult to swallow or to follow. The subplots – and there are several – are as well-developed as the main story, and the supporting characters are presented as more than mere colorful misfits decorating the background.
It takes KHAKEE nearly three hours to spin its tale, but how quickly these three hours fly past one just does not realise. Santoshi maintains tight control of every scene. The pace of the film is just right; it has moments of drama, of tension and great action.
One wouldn't call Khakee the best script Santoshi has tackled, but it certainly would rank amongst the best.
From the execution point of view, Santoshi is in form yet again. A number of sequences linger in your memory even after the show has concluded. Instances:
Post-interval too, the film has its share of brilliantly executed sequences. Sample these:
Another aspect that enhances the film is the dialogues [Rajkumar Santoshi], which will be met with a thunderous applause at various junctures of the film. Cinematography [K.V. Anand] is brilliant. Action sequences [Tinu Verma] are outstanding and one of the major assets of the enterprise.
Music [Ram Sampath] belongs to the popular genre, but all three songs of the film – 'Wada Raha', 'Dil Dooba' and 'Aisa Jadoo' [Lara Dutta] – seemed forced in the screenplay. Had KHAKEE been a songless film, the script would've been even more tighter.
Santoshi has a knack for extracting wonderful performances from the cast. In fact, the protagonists in his films have delivered matchless performances, besides being rewarded with the National Award [Sunny won the coveted award twice, for Ghayal and DFamini, Anil Kapoor for Pukar and Ajay Devgan for The Legend of Bhagat Singh].
In Khakee, Amitabh Bachchan delivers one of the best performances of his career. He has some of the toughest scenes in the film. In fact, a lesser actor would've failed to do justice to the role. But Bachchan's expressions, voice and movement bring the character to life. This performance should serve as a textbook for everyone facing the camera in Bollywood.
Akshay Kumar is fantastic. The actor leaves a strong impression despite pitted against powerful performers. He is incredible in light sequences. Undoubtedly, this is his career-best performance.
Ajay Devgan adds yet another feather in his cap with a performance that could've been essayed only by a master performer. His confrontations with Amitabh Bachchan are exemplary.
Aishwarya Rai gets a role to prove her talent and she more than lives up to the expectations. Tusshar may not have many lines to deliver, but his presence and expressions register a strong impact. Tanuja is tremendous in a small, but significant role. Jaya Pradha is adequate. Atul Kulkarni is a complete natural. Lara Dutta is fantastic in the 'Aisa Jadoo' number.
On the whole, Khakee has wonderful performances, intriguing web-like storyline, outstanding action and expert direction as its trump cards. All these factors put together should prove a rewarding experience for its investors.
Rating:- * * * *.