And you soon get that Luck is not crazy about challenging conventions. Which is such a gloom, because the film's core concept is hat ke.
Musa employs Tamang (Danny Denzongpa) to sniff out lucky people who can then work for them. "I am an investor in luck", he tells a bewildered Ram (Imran) when the offer for a job is made.
Ram needs cash pronto or he stands to lose his home: he bites the bait. They go on to a desi Las Vegas where Ram wins pretty much every gamble and Tamang squeals like a delighted baby.
In one of the film's most interesting scenes, the gambling den's owner bets a Rs 6 lakh amount if Ram can light his erratic, playing-card shaped lighter five times in a row.
Eventually, several others like Ram are collected and brought together to Cape Town for a ‘game’ where bets are laid on each contestant's survival. Among the players are several foreigners who curiously keep getting bumped off to leave our Hindi-speaking protagonists to take the story forward.
There's the babe-in-the-woods Ayesha (Shruti Hassan), a camel-race expert Shortkut (Chitrasi Rawat, Chak De! India), a retired army man (Mithun Chakraborty), and ex-convict Raaghav (Ravi Kissen). Ram and Ayesha are blindfolded when they first meet each other and he decides he's already in love. He also proclaims in a tone most ungentlemanly, that he'd be happy if she slapped him; at least she'd touch him (Yikes!).
Luck is full of hooks with the reality game putting out one sickening level after the other -- one underwater and another shot mid-air. These scenes are well-done but they're not a hundred per cent there. In the underwater portion for example, after the initial tension, a contestant’s leg getting bitten off by a shark is strangely comical.
The second half doesn't keep up with the tautness of the first: you have melodramatic hospital scenes, tiresome conflicts and a climax that's straight out of a 1980s potboiler.
Characterisation is straitjacketed, with the army man being the moral one, the heroine there for the skin-show, the villain showing a contrasting sense of humaneness and belief in fairness, and the hero winning against impossible odds.
Luck is on shaky ground as far as detailing is concerned: One wonders if the Indian Army uses the guns shown in the film. Also, Raaghav who is being hanged for a serious crime is let off when the execution doesn’t happen owing to some technical flaw. Wouldn’t such a criminal be given a life sentence instead of being escorted out to roam free?
The dialogue that hammers the movie's name in every sentence (keeping a count is not advised) is straight out of kooky-land, with characters having an intense conversation while rhyming their dialogue. Then there are lines like -- Yeh Khudkhushi nahin, khud ki khushi hai.
Camerawork is good, though partial towards close-ups. Background score is fun at times, though it goes pretty nuts with Arabic music towards the middle.
Mithun, made to wear bulky jackets with feathers around the neck, gives a laboured performance. Let's just say that he has looked far better otherwise. Ditto Denzongpa, though he makes up with his rendering of the bad guy who's got a likeable streak.
Sanjay Dutt floats through the film looking very bothered. Ravi Kissen is very good: a revelation. Chitrasi Rawat is superb; it'll be interesting to observe how this tiny powerhouse performer's talent is exploited by our filmmakers.
Despite a double role, Shruti Hassan is hardly there. She doesn’t have any spectacular dialogues and is constantly being rescued by the hero. Her character is not the stuff dream debuts are made off. But even in this bit role, her dialogue delivery disappoints. What she does have is screen presence and great dance moves.
Now to save the film from all its flaws arrives, in true-hero style, Imran Khan. With a face that exudes vulnerability and intensity and expressions that are nuanced, Khan is a delight. He carries the film on his shoulders with not much help from others in the cast. And he does splendidly.
Writer-director Soham Shah turns an innovative concept into a tired plot. Still, for Imran Khan and for a few gripping portions, this one could be a half-decent option.
Verdict: One-and-a-half stars