Shootout at Lokhandwala (SaL) is so trashy I did not want to write a review in the first place. Because that means revisiting the movie in your mind. Yuck! I’d rate this movie at 1/5 and that single point is only because of the last 20 minutes of the movie, else I would have given it a zero.
Talk of recycled cinema! If you have seen Satya, Company, D and recently Sarkar and Black Friday, I would say you have seen most (if not all) of what Hindi Cinema has to offer on Mumbai underworld. To that list I would add Sarfarosh, Shool and Seher as great movies from recent years where the protagonist is a policeman. SaL is not even a shadow of these movies.
SaL is the story of a shootout that took place on 16 November 1991 at a residential apartment called Svati in Lokhandwala, Mumbai. The gangsters under fire are Maya Dolas and his four accomplices. Vivek Oberoi as Maya is not very convincing and Tushhar as his sharp shooter looks straight out of Santa Claus’s beard – funny and never threatening. Hear him squeak and you cannot but curse the casting director. The movie is full of half-baked caricatures and except for Sanjay Dutt, the rest do not leave any worthwhile impression on your mind. The rest includes Amitabh, Suniel Shetty, Arbaaz Khan, Dia Mirza, Neha Dhupia, Amrita Singh, and Abhishek Bachchan (in a guest appearance). There are three sidekicks hanging around Vivek and the best thing you can do about them is to forget they exist.
I wish the movie had spent more time on the actual shootout rather than meandering through all that history preceding the incident. Because it handles the history very poorly while the shootout is handled OK. The history part is nothing but small incidents somehow stitched together. Add to that lackluster cinematography, over-worked dialogues, wooden faced actors and what you have is the perfect recipe for disaster.
The item numbers are cacophonic and forced into the script. Each time a song comes up, you can hear the director say “I want a formula film”. On the upside, having such songs is a nice break to go visit the loo. Actually, in this movie, it makes no difference when or how many times you visit the loo 🙂
The movie probably lifts ideas from all and sundry. Heres an example: the scene where Arbaaz Khan slowly drives a knife into his opponent’s chest is lifted from the Steven Spielberg movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and sadly, the copy is not even a fraction of the original.
And no one told me Her Highness Ekta Kapoor had a finger in this pie. That explains why we have Tushhar as a gangster. Had I known about Ms. Kapoor’s association with the movie I would not have ventured within 100 feet of the theatre. If you are hooked onto any of Balaji’s teleserials, go see the movie. If you are not, spending time with your mother-in-law will be more entertaining.
The movie does bring up an important question – why is there such graphic violence in our cinema today? It is one thing to show people being killed, it is another to show their jaws being pulped and fingers being mashed etc. Repeatedly, the underworld story cinema in India has such graphic violence that I shudder to think of the impact it will have on fertile minds. I refuse to accept that people walking out of a movie do not carry some part of the movie back with them.
Shootout at Lokhandwala glorifies violence and non-democratic procedures to handle criminals. The police, lawyers and law courts gleefully pat themselves on using an encounter route. Had these same institutions not gone to rot, criminals could have been tried and convicted through courts of law. It is the police who have been hand-in-glove with criminals and it is the police that now say “we will kill and not arrest”.
To make matters worse, the movie does not touch upon these questions sufficiently and when it does, the treatment is crass and clearly shows that the director is pre-disposed and simply not interested or not capable of healthy debate.
To conclude, Shootout at Lokhandwala will leave you with a total blackout of your mind.