Review: 99 is not really 100 per cent
Review: 99 is not really 100 per cent
By: Sonia Chopra
Critic's Rating: 17/5
Friday 15 May 2009
Krishna DK, Raj Nidimoru
Kunal Khemu, Boman Irani. Soha Ali Khan, Cyrus Broacha, Simone Singh, Mahesh Manjrekar, Amit Mistry, Vinod Khanna
What is it with Bollywood: goondas who give maa-behen gaalis are the only recourse left for entertainment, is it? What?s more, the film believes and propagates the thinking that crime is the way to make smart and quick money (unlike Jannat where the greedy hero pays for his crimes). So in the end, as our clean-chested, smart-alecky hero gleefully invests his illegal wealth in his dream business, we?re supposed to applaud.
No thanks. It?s scary how unabashedly cool filmmakers portray crime to be. There?s the money, thrills, chases, good friends, and along the way you might also fall in love with a nice girl who won?t mind that you?re a criminal, and what?s more, may actually help you in your endeavors.
On to the story set in 1999. Sachin (Khemu) and Zaramud (Broacha) run a fake sim card racket and under duress, start working for AGM the big don (Mahesh Manjrekar) of the city. (Yes, this is also one of those films where a quasi-comical, uneducated don keeps using cuss words while doing the usual dialoguebaazi.) They meet Rahul (Boman Irani) an executive in a foreign exchange office, to recover money that is owed to AGM. Rahul is constantly in trouble for his addiction to betting. He has people threatening him for recovery at all times, leading to his marriage breaking down. Now, this is one intriguing character. He pursues his wife (Simone Singh) constantly to return home, and at the same time lies to her about his betting. He goes to buy her a mobile for her birthday but buys the nicer one for himself. He appears to love his wife, but thinks nothing before asking her to spend all her savings to bail him out of trouble. When Rahul decides to use a client?s money to bet on a match, hoping to make enough money to return AGM?s loan, Sachin and Zaramud also get involved. In the end, it?s anybody?s guess who wins.
The film is technically slick. Cinematography by Rajeev Ravi (Dev.D, Chandni Bar) and Prakash Kutty (My name is Anthony Gonsalves) is a treat. Sound Design by Stephen Gomes (Jaane Tu?, Jodhaa-Akbar, Swades) is especially impressive. Each scene is fleshed out without hurry, leading to some impatient moments where you wait for the story to move ahead. The pace of the story is relaxed, but that works largely.
What doesn?t work are the dozen-and-a-half clich?s: the story of the guy who also has a sidekick doubling up as a friend, he falls in love, gets in trouble, the don is after him and so is the police, gets out of trouble and blah! Dialogues are boring and honestly, cuss words of the mother-sister variety should really not be allowed so freely.
Kunal Khemu seems stuck in a rut: he played similar characters in Traffic Signal and Jai Veeru as well. To his credit, he does have a screen presence and is good at comedy. Broacha plays the friend, but the actor?s natural flair for the funny is not really exploited.
Humour in the film revolves around Broacha?s weight and calling him Appu Ghar or him running in and out of toilets, or banging into things. Broacha is affable as always, but really, he can do so much more with a character that?s genuinely funny. Manjrekar plays the Bollywood don? always angry, gun in hand and funny at times. However, the scene stealer is Boman Irani who gives a remarkably smooth performance, playing out all the complexities of his character. Soha Ali Khan is a natural. Vinod Khanna as a hotshot businessman, Amit Mistry as a recovery agent, and the actor playing his sidekick Dimple give fantastic cameos. Debut directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K., turn out an average entertainer that?s high on gloss.
One can?t recommend 99 wholeheartedly, but it?s an alright option with a fab performance by Boman Irani and few-and-far funny moments.
Verdict: Two Stars