The cool opening credits makes you wonder if the film will match up. And the film delivers to its promise, at least in most parts.
In one of the more entertaining scenes of the film (the story is set in Chambal), we see a competition between young men sponsored by an underwear brand. As local politician Alka Singh (Kangna Ranaut) arrives to judge this competition, she first puts her revolver on the table, as the semi-clad men arrive one by one trying to impress her.
One of them asks for her number, and they begin an affair. This Mumbai boy Rohan (Vir Das) is pampered and given expensive gifts by Alka. But the wannabe actor wants Alka to produce a film for him. In return he has to be at her beck and call—sleep with her whenever she wants, do whatever she says.
She has a tragic tale behind her and her uncle (Piyush Mishra) is now her only family support. He is also her professional guide, manipulating and monitoring her moves, including writing her explosive speeches.
Till the first half, the film is a cauldron of decadent black humour and the fleshing out of characters. Alka makes for an extremely intriguing character, and her changing equations with her uncle, boyfriend, internal party members, and political opponents keep you hooked. The character of Rohan is equally intriguing as you abhor him as much as you sympathize.
Their romance (they call each other Coco and Cham Cham) has nothing to do with love, and is mostly an exchange of things. Still, this relationship is put to its ultimate test in the film’s finale.
The film entertains immensely as it makes biting comments on politics and the media. The local news channel anchor is unintentionally funny as she talks about the escapades of Alka and her political opponent using local nuances.
And in this small town political scenario anything goes—about a hundred press conferences are called with the same set of neighbourhood journalists, sting operations are formulated, marriages are denied, and so are relationships.
The film scores on the subtle black humour. When asked why he has disappeared from Mumbai, (while being forced into a marriage at gunpoint), Rohan says he’s following the example of Daniel Day Lewis who took a creative breather after giving an Oscar-winning performance.
Cult dialogues are given a wicked twist, like when Alka’s gang-members joke, “Khabardar, humne police ko chaaron aur se gher liya hai.” The song on the radio plays, “Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai” when a character is struggling to survive.
Writer-director Sai Kabir, clearly inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s school of filmmaking, gives us an arresting story mixed with fascinating relationship equations, romance, humour and great music.
In essence, the film exonerates Alka of all her crimes (24 murders, the film tells us) and presents her as a person, stuck in a life she doesn’t want, and looking for a chance to turnaround. Rohan seems to be this chance, but is he really involved or is just looking for freebies? Alka seems delusional about this aspect and is as childishly innocent when it comes to love, as she is brutal in her professional matters.
Judging by the first half, one had expected the film to continue its irreverent dark humour; but the second half, exploring the murkier side of characters, is somber, emotional and darker than expected.
Kangna Ranaut comes up with yet another jaw-dropping, glorious performance. The character has a challenging arch and Kangna breathes life into this unique, quirky character.
Piyush Mishra playing her uncle is a treat to watch. Vir Das does well as the boyfriend, who believes in relationship with benefits.
Do watch this desi Kill Bill of sorts to experience a different kind of Bollywood film. Forgive the inconsistent second half, and what you have is a film that entertains, makes you laugh, and gives you food for thought. Truth be told, the film is worthwhile for Kangna Ranaut’s performance alone. Don’t miss!
Rating: Three and a half stars