India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Ghanchakkar: Not crazy enough

June 28, 2013

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

There is nothing ostensibly wrong with Rajkumar Gupta’s “Ghanchakkar”. The filmmaker builds a story about a bank robber who loses his memory and cannot remember where he stashed the booty from a heist three months ago.

Emraan Hashmi plays Sanjay Atre, a seemingly mild man who is an expert at cracking bank vaults and lives with his garrulous and gaudily dressed wife Neetu (Vidya Balan). In what he decides will be his last crime, he pulls off a 350 million rupee heist with Pandit (Rakesh Sharma) and Idris (Namit Das).

The trio decide to lie low for a while. Sanjay is asked to keep the money safe but three months on, when the other two arrive to claim their share, much has changed. He’s lost his memory in an accident and is unable to recognise them, let alone remember where he hid the cash.

Gupta builds his story very well – you are sufficiently intrigued by the characters and their intentions by the time half the film is over. You are never certain what the two main characters (Balan and Hashmi) are thinking and Gupta tries to add a Hrishikesh Mukherjee kind of humour in some scenes.

But like most Bollywood movies, “Ghanchakkar” turns out to be one of those films that had a great idea but the writers didn’t know what to do with it. Gupta and co-writer Parvez Shaikh build up the mystery and suspense but let the film fall flat in the conclusion.

The flimsiness of the plot in the second half is made worse by a flagging of pace, giving you a feeling the story is being stretched beyond limit. Amit Trivedi’s soundtrack is peppy and fun. As for the cast, Rakesh Sharma as the smug goon and Namit Das as his short-tempered deputy are excellent.

Vidya Balan deserves credit for agreeing to play the anti-heroine – fat, garish and not a very likeable woman who seems to be hiding more than she lets on. She pulls off Neetu’s character with aplomb. Emraan Hashmi plays the laidback, forgetful thief equally well, but they are all let down by a film that never quite lives up to its potential.

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