There are several reasons why good ideas don't translate into good films; and 99 being one of those films 'with a germ', just fails to make the list for reasons known and unknown. What could have been an absorbing account of friendship, love and money-making, turns out to be a disappointment that offers the spectator empty promises.
There are two reasons why the average Hyderabadi might want to forgive this film, though. One, it concerns itself with match-fixing nostalgia at the height of the IPL craze, and two, it can be credited to the two Hyderabadi guys who made the crossover film Flavors, and are now out loose making Bollywood films.
99 is about how its badly etched-out characters attempt personal transformation through crime and thus try to attain 'centuries' of achievement in life. And these metamorphoses happen against the backdrop of the eventful year of 1999, with Clinton's visit, the Y2K scare and, most importantly, the match-fixing controversy, among other things, marking it.
Sachin (Kunal Khemu, in great form) and Zaramud (Cyrus Broacha, in absentia) are two Mumbaiyya friends who've set their hearts on the aforesaid 'centuries', when a run-in with a baddie AGM (Mahesh Manjrekar, seemingly modelled after an '80s Southie superstar) finds them as his extortionists, and then flying to Delhi to recover money from a gambler Rahul (Boman Irani, truly deserves a break), in order to buy their own freedom.
What follow are a merry tirade of characters - Soha Ali Khan, Simone Singh, Vinod Khanna - a couple of sleights of hand and several wild-goose chases, before one final, fixed match decides it all.
To give credit where credit is due, 99 uses sufficient thrill and comedy to prevent itself from falling, "Kerplunk!" like that, onto the line that would cause the odd person in the audience to say it looks too much like a documentary. So, it doesn't look anything like a documentary, don't worry. The fact that it has an absolutely ludicrous script does contribute to it. The cinematography is good - in fact, if anything appeals, it is the visuals (and some of the songs). This movie also has some enjoyable 'moments', and they get their 2 minutes of fame in the audiences' minds as well.
As you leave the theatre after watching this film, you realise 99 suffers from a serious problem of definition. From a film that does not even comprehend just what goes into making a century, an omnipresent vagueness throughout is but expected.