It would have been easier on us Fear Factor-gulpers if we were offered phrases of comfort. Like, for example, if they told us that no one's going to really die. Or if they told us the whole thing was a video game, or that the players themselves had chosen to appear on this ghastly reality show.
Because how much fun is it to watch hundreds of people bet on the gruesome deaths of their fellow-human beings - human beings who aren't even willing to play? It's a fate worse than that of cattle being led on to bleed themselves in a fight that they don't even know why they are at and that humans seem to centre entire festivals around. And if it all weren't so morbid, it would have been so much more fun.
The surprise is that it still is fun.
Soham Shah's thriller is based on the world of ugly betting. Moussa (Sanjay Dutt) runs a thriving betting empire in South Africa, and his games breach all limits of sanity - he literally eliminates players every round. His stooge, Tamaang (Danny Denzongpa), has sniffed out a bunch of the luckiest men and women in various parts of the world, and this group has now come to take part in some serious action, with massive amounts of money apparently riding on them.
Ram Mehra (Imran Khan) and ex-serviceman Jabbar Singh (Mithun Chakraborty) are the only ones in this troupe with a sizeable flashback in their knapsacks. The latter needs the money to save his wife's life, and has willingly entered this bizarre lair. However, the former needs the money but isn't willing to play at this ludicrous game. Add to them a Pakistani who everyone nicknames Shortcut (Chitrashi Rawat), the delectable Ayesha (Shruti Haasan), and an ex-convict Raghav (Ravi Kissen), and a few foreigners who serve as scenery.
They all have incredible fortuity, we are told, and as fortifying examples, we are told of how four of them (Ayesha excluded) have been through flukes of fortune that favour only the ridiculously lucky. Their first round sees them all stand in a circle and pull the trigger on their right-hand neighbour - if your neighbour's lucky, he'll have to deal with an empty cartridge.
As the game gets sicker by the minute, you can't help noticing how tied up you are with the 'luck' of each of the protagonists. The word has been used close to a million times in the film, and it even trivializes the already flimsy premise of 'luck' that we are introduced to the characters with. The director's key strength is the witty writing and dialogues, and he has some solid talent in the form of Sanjay Dutt and Mithun Chakraborty to back it up. The romance is where we are let down, because Ram's courting of Ayesha consists of some corny lines at best.
Luck bases itself on a concept completely alien to our screens and sensibilities. Indeed, we've seen worse maniacal villains who dunk their victims into pools of acid, try to rape sisters of heroes, and generally get their laughs out of other such ghastly deeds, but to make an entire movie about the helplessness of being caught in one man's crazy greed, can be upsetting if you're feeling very vulnerable at the moment.
The film does not suffer from problems of poor logic, or even inconsistency (except for the bit about the ATM robbery), and as for stunts, there are a few death-defying jumos here and there but nothing to note down in your diary.
The senior actors have a blast when it comes to performances - these are all dialogue-based roles rather than expressive ones. Danny and Mithun have some interesting lines, and the genuinely funny bone is Kota Srinivasa Rao, in his daffy cameo - the local audiences will love him in it. Moussa Bhai's role seems too unbelievably cold-hearted, though. Imran Khan is an enthusiastic kid, but is ill-timed at many places. Ravi Kissen seems to have the single-most intriguing and chilling role in the cast.
Then, the women. Shruti Haasan adds some gloss, and that's it - she is no actor. Other than attract curiosity because of her lineage, there's nothing much that either she or her role can offer audiences. Chitrashi Rawat's looks have matured, and she has started looking elegant, despite her bad hair-styling. Her character and lines, however, are similar to earlier ones that she's handled.
Varying among murky Mumbai and cruel locales of what we're told is South Africa, the film maintains a grainy feel throughout. The costumes look wacky, but maybe that's what they call fashion in South Africa. Salim Sulaiman's music is racy and pounding, keeping with the pace of the unfolding drama.
On the whole, Luck won't change character or even give you anything to think about, but is a good entertainer. The elderly and the weak-hearted are advised to keep away, though.