The earlier pairing of Tinu Suresh Desai and Akshay Kumar did prove lucky for the latter who won an acting award for Rustom'. This time round, however, the rescue mission fails to get off the launch pad. (Image:Twitter)
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Parineeti Chopra, Kumud Mishra, Pavan Malhotra, Ravi Kishan
Direction: Tinu Suresh Desai
The earlier pairing of Tinu Suresh Desai and Akshay Kumar did prove lucky for the latter who won an acting award for ‘Rustom’. This time round, however, the rescue mission fails to get off the launch pad. Our rescue specialist (Bell Bottom, Baby, Naam Shabana…) is now called upon to reappraise the role of Jaswant Singh Gill who was in charge of the operation leading to the excavation of about 60 coal miners caught in the mines after a ghastly accident.
The coal mines are a fine set to tell the story of the tribulations of the under-rated miners who jeopardise their life and limb for the requirements of the people. ‘Kaala Patthar’ dealt with it in part but, given the Yash Chopra banner, it was more about glamour, song, dance and the like. Even Ranveer Singh’s ‘Gunday’ dealt with coal and not coal mines.
Writer Vipul Rawal unfortunately is too formatted in the Bollywood template to translate the tragedy that happened or the heroics that required to be captured, to capsule the efforts of Jaswant Singh Gill. The film is too engrossed in depicting the villainous rift between the bureaucracy and the specialist, and obviously taking sides with the latter. Also, the film-maker makes the cardinal error of believing that the task is done by choosing Akshay Kumar in the lead role. Akshay remains a director’s actor and his filmography often swings from extremely good performances to disappointing ones. This time it is the latter.
The film starts with Jaswant (Akshay Kumar) and his wife in the midst of matrimonial bliss and Punjabi energy and bhangra. Stereotypical characters are thrown in to establish the town near Raniganj and the miners. They are all given the 1980s look and there is some difficulty identifying Varun Badola and Arif Zakaria. The town wakes up to the tragedy when more than 60 miners are trapped in the mine and it takes a while for Coal India to step in with their rescue operations.
Here too the script is smitten by the good and bad syndrome. All cardboard and lacking credibility. From the colliery management we have RK Ujjwal (Kumud Mishra) and Om Chakravarthy (Arif Zakaria) who seem to carry no expertise with them and are just out there gambling with their trust rather than their expertise. From the word go, we know that Gill is the man who will deliver and those in the know are sure because they have their historic facts in place of the 1989 incident.
We also have a miner of local flavour, D. Sen (Dibyendu Bhattacharya, a caricature not a character) whose malafide intent and conspiratorial operations along with Shishir Sharma constitute as big a challenge as the flood and gas in the mine. Added to this is the team trapped in the mine including the likes of Sudhir Pandey, Ravi Kishan, Jameel Khan and Varun Badola — all caught in the dark, poor VFX and a bad script praying for providence and the finale.
Yet another golden opportunity goes abegging. A road less-travelled, a story hitherto not told. The heady cocktail just has no fizz. Akshay Kumar tries hard to redeem but there is just too much Akshay and too little of anything else. Add to this, a physics tutorial is not what the audience paid for – not that there were too many. The film for inexplicable reasons has a silent entry at the theatres.
Released in the midst of the Asian Games and the Cricket World Cup you get a distinct feeling that the makers and the minds had given up before they even tried. Perhaps they took a realistic view of the rushes and waited for a perfect alibi.