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Malang Is The Dark Thriller That Bollywood Is Craving For




Starring Aditya Roy Kapur, Anil Kapoor,  Disha Patani, Kunal Khemu

Directed  by Mohit Suri

Rating: ****(4 stars)

 Not  quite as noire-ish as Alfred Hitchcock would have liked  it to be,and yet  dark enough  to  qualify as a dishy thriller,  Mohit Suri’s Malang has enough moments  of anxiety  and  despair to keep  lovers  of  suspense thrillers  perked  up till the very end.

This is  the kind of  yarn that feeds on the  suspense genre and nourishes  its  strong  antecedents by giving it  a forward  push. Mohit Suri has never shied away from looking at  the dark side  of the human heart. In Malang he  juxtaposes  the discovery  of love with the exploration of evil in  a seesaw of  hope and  mayhem that  simply, or maybe  not so simply,  keeps us riveted.

 Yes, there is an element  of trying-to-be-clever and look-how-smart-my-narrative-is that tends to show up unannounced, for instance  the lengthy fight  that opens the film . Furniture crashes, bones  break as  our hero Advait(his face hidden from camera  view) hurtles through a gauntlet  of  violent inmates in prison. This  opening is designed  to get us involved.And  it succeeds.

The  very next  brilliantly written sequence has  Anil Kapoor  playing a cocky ostensibly uncouth cop in Goa whipping up a chatty conversation with  a club owner(Makarand Despande) only to gun him  down  cold-bloodedly.

 Goodness, is that a  spoiler?  A majority  of episodes in  Malang are designed as  anti-spoilers. Mohit Suri who had lately lost his mojo(though I must sheepishly confess I  liked his rejected  film Hamari Adhuri Kahani)  cracks the  thriller code with a  lip-smacking relish. There is  a cornucopia of violence  in the plot, more pent-up than is good for the characters’ health.And when  the violence explodes, boy,  it really  manifests  itself in streams  of  unstrapped  bloodshed.

Countering the  brutality  of  Suri’s Goan saga(written by Annirudh  Guha with  a ferocious eye for  sanguinary  solace )  is  the  film’s  core  relationship between two commitment-shy  drifters who meet in Goa and reluctantly fall in  love. There  is some genuine chemistry  between  Disha Patani and Aditya Roy Kapoor at play here.And Vikas Sivaraman’s camera  loves them. They don’t only look good together, they  also  succeed  in sucking us  into their  shared  life which goes from  detachment to  damnation  via some  trenchant  writing that  accommodates  troughs  of  unbearable conflict and violence.

Roy Kapoor has to go through several  stages  of  character transformation from drifter  to  lover to  assassin, and he has worked hard on his  body language  to  appear languorous  or lithe,whatever  the requirements  of  the  script.Anil Kapoor with his hyena  laugh and alcoves  of shock actions leaves a  lasting  impact. Here’s an actor who never fails even when the script lets him down. And this  is  certainly  not one of those occasions.

But  it is Kunal Khemu, a Mohit Suri favourite, who takes an intrinsically powerful script  to the next level. He  plays a seemingly  routine   cop  with a dark embarrassing secret  that he would go to  any lengths to  conceal. Through this  character  , Khemu  tacitly  questions age-old notions of  mardaangi  and  machismo. This is a fearless  performance that shows Khemu to be what he is. An underused  neglected actor.

Malang has many surprises  in store. It is  not the most perfect of films.  But it celebrates its own imperfections in  the same way that  it celebrates  its doomed protagonists’  fatal flaws. Everyone  deserves  a  second  chance. The way  Malang combats  destiny to give the lovers  a second chance, is a story in itself.

Some other time.

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