The new millennium is losing its novelty but the theme of four friends on a life altering journey continues to excite Bollywood filmmakers. This week it is the turn of Kabir Sadanand to try the designer potion to redeem himself at the box office after a couple of duds. He has definitely improved, but when your baseline is Popcorn Khao Mast Ho Jaao it doesn’t amount to a compliment. Sadanand knows the terrain but lacks the wherewithal to tread it. He wants to do a Rang De Basanti with a Fukrey kind of flair but falls between the two stools.

Off and on he manages to strike a chord with his intent as he raises the issues that concern today’s generation. From deep-rooted corruption and insensitive electronic media to women’s security, Sadanand has tried to tick many subjects that occur in the urban youth’s mind-space but the way he puts them across ranges between pretentious and silly.

Set in Delhi and told in a non-linear fashion, the film has characters that sound hare-brained, their reactions to situations leaving one baffled: If somebody misbehaves with your friend, kidnap the guy. If you get embroiled in a false case, try self immolation to get attention!

Dev (Mohit Marwah) aspires to run an adventure camp and feels proud to be an Indian. Something Devi (Kiara Advani) doesn’t uphold because the insensitivity that she sees all around as the daughter of an army man who gave his life for the country. Gaurav (Vijender Singh) is the son of a seasoned politician who wants to break away from the muck to make a name in the boxing ring but still drops his father’s name every time they get into a spot. Aditya trades in sanitary ware and is tired of the jibes that the family business generates.

One night when the four get into a situation, Gaurav’s technique doesn’t work as they run into Chautala (Jimmy Shergill), the symbol of police-politician nexus. He threatens and then manipulates them for his own gain. How they get out of the muck constitutes the rest of the story. It seems there is a lot of material to work with but the contrived writing and the false notes in treatment let the intentions down. Underlining everything with a marker, Sadanand’s idea of subtlety is making Gaurav sport a T-shirt with a Bhagat Singh photo emblazoned on it

In trying to be candid, the language becomes crass. In trying to be funny, the emotions feel manufactured. And the fresh cast seems to have been chosen only on the basis of look test. Mohit threatens to become a piece of furniture when Sadanand expects him to fire on all cylinders. Vijender is so natural with his Haryanvi that he forgets that as an actor one needs to complete the lines. Kiara Advani overdoes it as the feisty Delhi girl and Arfi is used as a butt of poor jokes. It is the charming Jimmy Shergill as the personification of the ugly situation who provides some heft to the drama as the corrupt cop. He hits the target even when others around him are firing blank shots but even he runs out of ammunition after a point.

Genre: Drama

Cast: Jimmy Shergill, Mohit Marwah, Vijender Singh, Kiara Advani, Arfi Lamba

Bottomline: A poor man’s Rang De Basanti, Fugly fails to fire the imagination.