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Shortcut Romeo review: Where are the thrills?

Shortcut Romeo
Susi Ganeshan
Neil Nitin Mukesh, Ameesha Patel, Puja Gupta
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"Maine tumpe apna naam likh diya hai" (I've written my name on you), announces the hero, who tries to woo the girl with other such charming lines.

The funny part happens when, on saying this line for the 100th time, the girl snaps back, "Do you think I'm a blackboard?" Ha ha. Too bad this humour wasn't intentional.

A remake of the director Susi Ganeshan's own 2006 Tamil film Thiruttu Payale, Shortcut Romeo is all about deceit and blackmail.

A wealthy husband and a palatial home. Used to the luxuries of life, Monica (Ameesha Patel) has an extra-marital affair caught on camera by Sooraj (Neil Nitin Mukesh). He clarifies that he doesn't want her "makhan jaisi jawaani", but wants loads of cash to live like a rich man.

The game begins with each of them trying to outsmart the other. Sooraj gets busy spending some mean cash and goes holidaying to Kenya, where he meets and falls for a girl (Pooja Gupta).

While in Kenya the film makes fun of the locals (the local women show us glimpses of Bollywood item numbers), the men land up in bright red fancy dress, and we are served National Geographic-type shots of the animals. Not an ounce of respect is shown to the locals or animals that the film photographs. It's shameful, really.

A song shows Sooraj and his friends going on holidays around the world through tacky special effects. In fact, curiously, all the songs are gaudily picturised.

The flashback that explains why Sooraj turned wayward shows him and his friends blowing stolen money on a middle-aged dancer. Which would be fine, except they look like they're in third grade. The attempt to justify his criminal bent is there, but it's not convincing.

Meanwhile, both parties pick up the phone to take turns in saying, "Tumhe kya lagaa, main bewakoof hoon?" Just when things get a tad interesting, the film traverses into a hyper-moralistic tone. Which is sad because you were actually beginning to enjoy predicting the husband's reaction and what'll happen next.

But then you have dialogues that pooh-pooh lust and deify love, and there are other dialogues talking of love versus money etcetera.

The performances vary. Neil Nitin Mukesh has been there, done that. This must be his nth role in a twisted thriller. With weird styling (what's with the orange-tinged hair), he's a bit out of sorts here.

Ameesha Patel is good in the role as the wealthy wife with shades of grey. Pooja Gupta does well for a pretty nondescript role.

With lack of technical finesse and the formulaic story, the film feels dated. But the central flaw of Susi Ganeshan's film is that it's simply not diabolical, different or dangerous enough to blow our socks off.

And that the central character of the film is the weakest.

A thriller that's not thrilling - then, what's the point really? Feel free to pass.

Rating: 1.5 stars


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