Cast: Kiara Advani, Ronit Roy, Mustafa Burmawala, Carla Dennis, Eshan Shanker
Veteran filmmakers are most revered and looked up to, more so, if they have given us suspense-filled edge-of-the-seat thrillers in the past. The duo Abbas-Mustan made us sit up and take note of their ability to spring surprises like Khiladi, Daraar, Humraaz and Soldier to name a few. But their grandest contribution has to be Baazigar — a film that catapulted Shah Rukh Khan to the unparalleled big lead. SRK’s character in the film turned the notion of protagonist on its head. Instead, it was the turn of the “anti-hero”, which then became a mainstream reality. There is an unmistakable humour that runs through Machine; it begins right from the opening scene. Imagine an opening frame that shows a camera aiming at an eardrum all along taking us through the maze of its insides.
Soon a swanky college Woodstock in North India, seemingly near Shimla, exposes some of the brats (students). If any of us has ever received a modicum of education in any institution, one may infer that schooling — as is it actually shown here — appears to be a travesty of education. From the way the students dress up to the way their classrooms are adorned with upscale furniture in the classrooms to the activities they all indulge in, it all looks fake and artificial. Not that we haven’t seen such false and distorted representation of facts earlier in Karan Johar’s or other Mumbai filmmakers’ cinema. Thereafter, many scenes from the director duos past films are reused to a pathetic finale. And that’s not all. Abbas-Mustan haven’t grown with time. They seem to be stuck in a time warp.
And there are many areas where the director-producer duo seems to be trying to relive the earlier grand success of Baazigar and rehash it into Abbas’ son Mustafa Burmawala’s debut film. What worked in their favour nearly 25 years ago was the freshness that Indian audiences lapped it up because of its hero getting depicted as a villain. At its core, Machine is the story of racing enthusiasts, who meet each other under mysterious circumstances. As their bond becomes stronger, love blossoms and soon they tie the knot. After falling in love Ransh’s (Mustafa) first job at hand seems to get two of his rivals out of the way. Soon, as the two (Ransh) and Sarah (Kiara Advani) get married, they don’t take long to allow their passion to overpower them. He also must win over Sarah’s father (Ronit Roy) and prove that he is the best son-in-law that the family could have ever had.
In the midst of love and betrayal, many unpredicted twists are thrown in, that neither take you by surprise nor help sustain your interest. Before long, cracks begin to be seen in Ransh’s character. After a frolicsome outing on their honeymoon, Ransh throws Sarah off the cliff and thus begins a sordid tale of suspicion, distrust, obsession, greed and treachery. What unfolds before you are many scenes from Baazigar that give you a sense of déjà vu, and from then on the film is on its downhill. Johnny Lever acts as a policeman here, and other characters also appear and disappear as the writing hinges on the so-called star charisma of Mustafa. And that is the major drawback that makes Abbas-Mustan’s Machine a trite overwritten drama.