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Cheap thrills on a low budget -- Contract

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botched up From Contract
botched up From Contract

Contract begins with a line: You may ignore terrorism. But terrorism won’t ignore you. We could say the same thing about Varma. He keeps coming back to haunt us. The man is evil. Only he could’ve made an entire film as an inside joke. His idea of the underworld has something to do with an encounter cop, streaking through streets of Mumbai, without his underwear.

And this, moments after the hideous looking chap walks out of his bath in a towel and flashes Mallika Sherawat, staring down at him from her photograph (that busty one taken during the Myth premiere). With the kind of money she charges these days, this was the best Varma could do — use her poster.

And before he knows it, the cop does a Ranbir Kapoor-Saawariya-towel-drop and runs around the streets in the buff, chased by the hero of the film. Someone shoots this on his mobile and after the thrilling chase sequence, the cop returns home to complain to Mallika, who still seems to be smiling down at him from her poster.

Contract is all about the ‘underworld,’ the ‘ghusna’ (infiltration) and the ‘maarna’ (‘Wham Bam,’ of course).

We know someone’s going to have a broken back mounting the saddle, “entering the underworld,” when the chief of police (a poker-faced Prasad Purandare) tells our ex-soldier hero mourning the death of his wife: “Ab Jo Kuch Hoga, Hamare Beech Main Hoga. Main Iske Baare Main Kissi Se Nahin Kahoonga” (Whatever happens from now, will remain between us. I will not tell anyone).

The cop wants him to go to prison because that’s where all the gangs go bang-bang at each other. As he eloquently explains: “Underworld ke andar ghusne ki training police se behtar aur kaun de sakta hai” (Who could train you better for entering the underworld than the police itself) and immediately spells out: “It is supposed to be a joke.”

Since most of the film is filled with such juvenile humour about all possible puns the word ‘Underworld’ could accommodate, you hardly get a chance to get serious about the plot. That’s a tragedy because Prashant Pandey’s screenplay comes across as a tribute to crime-dramas like Drohkaal or The Departed where an honest officer has to go undercover to infiltrate a gang.

Varma botches it up trying to make a masala film out of this seriously explosive material by shooting it like a low-budget student film. One gang leader lives on a boat, another lives in someplace ‘vilayat’ (which looks suspiciously like Goa) and the rest of the film is shot in extreme close-ups. Which is okay if the people featured look good.

Adhvik looks like a cross between Ajith and Simbu and tries hard to be all angst, the chubby girl (Sakshi Gulati) pouts like Namitha unconvincingly and the rest of the gangsters look like they haven’t had a bath all their lives because RGV is gunning for realism in the Satya mould... while trying to make a masala movie ridden with Hindi text book proverbs for dialogues.

Sample: “Jahaan mitthai hoti hai, makhi aa jaati hai” (Sweets attract flies), “Mashoor betey ke sau baap hotey hai” (Success has many fathers). Or something as charming as “Har roz ek hi rang ki chaddi pehanta hoon kya” (Do I wear the same colour underwear everyday?) and that’s supposed to mean: “I don’t need to feel the same way everyday.”

After Contract, we can be sure that Ram Gopal Varma is only as good as his screenwriters.

As he admits himself, Satya happened by accident. We know Company was Jaideep Sahni’s genius. Contract looks like a hurriedly made low-budget assembly-line action film that smacks of Varma’s disregard for writing. Wasted potential.

Contract

Genre: Action

Director: Ram Gopal Varma

Cast: Adhvik Mahajan, Sakshi Gulati, Amruta Khanvilkar

Storyline: A former soldier seeks revenge, infiltrates an underworld gang to establish contact with terrorists responsible for the death of his wife and daughter.

Bottomline: Only for Varma’s chaddi-buddies.

SUDHISH KAMATH

The Hindu presents the all-new Young World

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