Have you ever been to some of those video games websites and read reviews for games? What they do is, they break the whole experience of having played the game into its constituent parts (Gameplay, Sound, Graphics etc.) and score each of them separately. I wish I could make a similar itemized list of the ingredients of filmmaking, and give a flat zero to Risk in screenplay, direction, background score and editing, and be done with it.
Alas, my editor wants me to write a 500-word review, and you shall have to read that instead. I'm going to write it, but I must warn you - I'm tired and not just because Risk is an exhausting film. It is, but I'm even more tired of these faux real, gritty Mumbai underworld dramas. Ram Gopal Verma set the bar with Satya, and almost everyone, especially his protégés, one of whom is Vishram Sawant, is simply content with using that as template and never going beyond.
As the film begins, you are introduced to an expository voiceover that explains the characters and what they do. Over little-heard dialog, the exposition reaches ridiculous proportions where it is just naming characters for the sake of it. "Yeh Hari Hai." "Yeh Anwar ki biwi hai. Do bachche bhi hain." Achha? Mujhe to maloom hi nahee tha.
This is important, though, because it introduces you to the level of writing you will be seeing in this film. Very, very low.
Anyway, we then plunge into the story of an honest, not-so-upright cop, Suryakant (Hooda), who wants to eradicate organized crime from Mumbai, and his unorthodox way of dealing with them. He is an encounter specialist, you see, and has no qualms about killing gangsters to get the job done. By this time I was already seeing huge shades of Ab Tak Chhappan
We are then introduced to a polite-yet-menacing don, Khalid (Khanna), who reigns over the nefarious ongoings from Bangkok, complete with a hot-headed brother and an autistic child. Angaar, anyone?
Khalid is at loggerheads with Naidu (Hussain), who is moving into his turf, and relies on the Chief Minister (Biswas) to get him removed. When the Home Minister (Jog) sides with Naidu, battle lines are drawn, and a game of cat-and-mouse with ever-changing loyalties begins. Suryakant decides to take matters in his own hands, and slowly reaches a position to play both sides against each other, to ensure complete and utter destruction of both factions.
This Yojimbo-like premise was so promising, in fact, that I was riveted to the screen. The film was finally beginning to pick up (all this happens largely in the second half), but except for a few deft moments of changing colors, it never really delivers on a livewire of an idea. Pity, because the film had tremendous potential. Hooda and Khanna deliver solid performances and their verbal ping-pong is fascinating to watch.
Hooda especially has the right swagger and sheer physicality of the role down pat, and Khanna shows that even in a limited and underwritten role, he can deliver a crackerjack of a performance. The supporting cast, too, does its job admirably, given the all too familiar visual language of the film.
Where it hurts most, though, is the writing. The screenplay is plain boring, the characters are criminally neglected, and the dialog varies from Satya-like familiarity to just plain bizarre.
Vishram Sawant has a certain flair for using staccato sequences of violence and physical brutality to set the mood and move his narrative, but has no control over his actors, and the emotional moments. What sets the better gangland dramas apart - Omkara
comes to mind - is the emotional impact associated with the violence. Eschewing that makes Sawant's effort look mawkish.
The screenplay doesn't even stop to help you make sense of things - things just happen. From fairly plausible, the film treads into nonsense territory, and some very brave performances from the leads stop it from staying there. While I applaud low-budget enterprises, I cannot stand by a film that has no screenplay to talk of and looks like it has been edited together with scotch tape.
It's obvious that Vishram Sawant is talented, and I don't mean to say that in jest. There is a certain conviction of showing a vision, even if the end product is strangely disjointed and shopworn. The problem is that he is working within the boundaries a film. Which means he needs to tell a story and populate it with real characters, both of which are his weak points. He needs to do some experimental work that removes the need for a coherent narrative or character development.
The film is well shot and decently acted (with the terrible exception of Dutta, who is a confused mumbling bore), and if you can stand yet another Maratha gangland film, replete with quasi gun-toting jingoism and serious pondering men, do give this one a chance. Don't expect it to be brilliant, and, oh, wear ear muffs. The background score is harsh and LOUD.