September Issue 2009

By | Arts & Culture | Movies | Published 15 years ago

You only expect the best of a Vishal Bhardwaj-Ronnie Screwala production, but Kaminey falls short of the mark. As with most of his previous movies, Bhardwaj has directed, written screenplay, and is also the music director and playback singer for Kaminey. Too many things to do for one man? Not really. Omkara is testament to the fact that despite taking on a multitude of duties, Bhardwaj can still do the movie justice.

It requires a lot of concentration to actually understand Kaminey’s storyline. The fact that Shahid Kapoor plays two characters in the movie, Guddu and Charlie — twin brothers who drifted apart during their childhood — will dawn on you only after the intermission and have you thinking that the movie is proceeding in flashbacks. The first half is confusing to say the least: there is a series of four sequences, one with Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra, the other with Kapoor the gangster, a third with Amol Gupte the Marathi “Bhau,” politician-cum-gangster and, finally, a set of foreign gangsters in Goa.

Guddu is the “good” guy whereas Charlie is the gangster and a wanna-be bookie. Bhope, also known as “Bhau,” is after Charlie’s life for the possession of a stolen guitar case full of cocaine worth Rs 10 million. He is also chasing Sweety, his younger sister, who escapes being bartered (through marriage) to earn him good money. The movie builds up in four separate frames to finally merge into one. The scene where the police conduct an operation against Bhau and the characters who are part of all four sequences is simply amazing. With guns pointed towards him, Bhope, amidst this tension, attempts to strike a deal with the police, creating an atmosphere of an auction, hollering out percentages of what the police can keep out of the cocaine stash and what he can. Gupte undoubtedly stands out in this, and Kapoor, who earlier seemed too soft a gangster — the ultimate gangster image having been set by Vivek Oberoi playing the character of Maya in Shootout at Lokhandwala — delivers a good performance. Guddu and Charlie’s face-to-face encounter is where Kapoor proves his versatality as an actor. The glamorous Chopra from Fashion is shown warding off her brother’s thugs in all her rage with a stick lit with fire and later, pulling out a gun on her brother, scenes in which she really asserts herself as a talented actress.

The second half of the movie is definitely stronger and has more depth and clarity. The story of two brothers who go down different paths in life due to what happened early in childhood, or of a girl who fights against the odds to secure love as well as the reins of her own life from the clutches of her all-powerful brother, raises some socio-political issues. But what is interesting is that Bhardwaj incorporates an aspect of politics, which of late, has not been addressed. There is only one scene that brings this to the fore, in a conversation between Guddu and Bhau, where Bhau reveals his hatred towards migrants who come to Mumbai in search of better prospects, Guddu belonging to that category. One sees how the changes in what was then Bombay, ignites a fire in Bhau, who believes that only Maharashtrans have the right to reside in the city.

But again, these are just a few scenes that leave an impact. Those planning on watching Kaminey should know that this is not a ‘fun’ movie and requires a different frame of mind to watch.

Farieha Aziz is a Karachi-based journalist and teacher. She joined Newsline in 2007, rising to assistant editor. Farieha was awarded the APNS award for Best Investigative Report (Business/Economic) for the year 2007-2008. She is a co-founder and Director at Bolo Bhi, an advocacy forum of Digital Rights.