It's nice when the script of a film consistently overtakes you in smartness. But then, there's the hazard of your occasionally being left behind by a mile and a half. Which is the price you pay to be in the company of people who are passionate about the things they do - not all their mumbling makes sense to you, even though their presence carries an aura about it.
Vishal Bharadwaj's Kaminey will be taken seriously by audiences, because of how seriously it seems to have been taken when it was being made. It's as much about the much-celebrated devil in the detail, as about the multi-faceted artiste in him that lets him compose chartbusters and make an entire film and bring out award-winning performances from everyone in his cast, including from the barrel of a gun.
In Kaminey, Shahid Kapur plays two diametrically opposite twins, a lisping Charlie and a stuttering Guddu, who live in different worlds and pretend that the other doesn't exist. Charlie's career ambitions centre around becoming a bookie, while Guddu's life is more on the normal, ethical side.
Charlie has just lost his cumulative earnings in a fouled-up horse race, while Guddu spends his time singing in Mumbai's seedy bylanes about the advantages of condoms. Now, Guddu is helplessly caught in a quagmire when his girlfriend Sweety (Priyanka Chopra) has news for him that has put a lovingly chalked out life-plan on indefinite hold.
The twins' paths cross after a very elaborate story set-up that involves a drug scam, a gang war, and a bull-headed Marathi fanatic. For a while, there's a case of a mistaken identity, but that's not entirely what the story speaks about.
Vishal Bharadwaj uses wit like commas in the narrative, and it's not just the clever timing of Charlie's 'f-ected' speech and Guddu's endearing stammer. There's a scene in which Amol Gupte escapes from a frenemy - a dreaded gangster - who catches up with him, by playing dead. When the guy turns his back on him, convinced he's gone for good, Gupte mischeviously rises with a gun and shoots him dead. It's a scene that tickles at an opportune time.
There are also those neat touches everywhere, like the one in which a hurrying bride books her honeymoon tickets online, as she gets ready for a rather impromptu wedding, with a face pack on.
However, Kaminey is likely to be largely a multiplex attraction, and one of the reasons is the 'unapproachable-ness' of the script. If you're aware of what they do to your fingers in a third-degree attempt to get a confession out of you, you'll do well, because Kaminey's the kind of film that's not going to show you everything. The good news is that it mostly uses actors' reactions to narrate scenes, especially violent ones, thus leaving little scope for explicit gore.
There's not much of 'emotion' as we commonplace crowds know the term. The chemistry between the twins is disappointingly nominal, with just one powerful scene in the climax, and for some time, you could almost panic looking at how heartless the world's being to Sweety and Guddu.
Then, there's a fair bit of Marathi in the dialogues, especially Sweety's, which can baffle you if you'v never heard people speak the language. And finally, the film is slightly over-indulgent, in the sense that it is like a 500-page novel that engrosses you, but loses you somewhere on the 300th page, at which point you just want to take a short-cut to the ending.
All the performances are brilliant, and Shahid Kapur's done a particularly impressive job by remembering to 'eff' all his 'esses'. Priyanka Chopra, as Guddu's fiercely protective girl, is wonderful, too. Amol Gupte plays Sweety's brother, and his is a very detailed character, that he delivers with ease.
Coming to the part that's become a bigger star than the actors of the film - Dhan Te Nan is, well, a star all by itself. It is used extensively by the background track, which also uses a couple of '70s hits as one of the 'symbolism' efforts of the film.
The film's largely dark and grimy, and Bharadwaj films it all in a way that only lends authenticity to the proceedings. In any case, this is a film by a pro - so professional, the only way he could have made it more authentic was to create another Shahid Kapur.
In all, Kaminey is a good one for those in the mood for a thriller with their popcorn.