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A leap of faith, but not into the absurd

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In league:The director keeps the audience riveted with intelligent characterisation.
In league:The director keeps the audience riveted with intelligent characterisation.

Film: Badmaash Company (Hindi)

Cast: Shahid Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Mieyang Chang, Anupam Kher

Director: Parmeet Sethi

For long, we have been craving a fresh, youthful film only to be fed glamour and gags that are not even pegged down to a decent plot. Expectations touched a new low last week with Housefull, but actor-turned-director Parmeet Sethi resuscitates our faith. Of course, like every story revolving around con masters, there are leaps of faith, but not into absurd territory.

Set in mid-1990s, when India had just begun to unshackle itself from the licence-permit raj, Shahid Kapoor plays the young man of the liberalisation era, with the drive to make big money doing whatever it takes.With his friends, Zing and Chandu (Mieyang Chang and Vir Das) and an in-your-face girlfriend (Anushka Sharma), he indulges in small-time smuggling customs-seized goods for the owner of a local shop, but what starts as fun soon becomes Karan's idea of success and he sets out on the one-way street of scam. Sethi will keep you riveted in the first half with some intelligent writing and characterisation.

The racist jokes directed at Chang may be politically incorrect, but are rooted firmly in reality. So are Anushka's candid ways.

Sethi has broken stereotype by giving Anushka some staple Bollywood hero lines and amorous moves. The momentum drops after intermission once the action shifts to the U.S.; the fraudsters begin to get repetitive and the believability quotient starts to waver.

Driven by an insatiable desire to play God, Karan's egoistic tendencies raise their ugly head and his friendships and love take a beating. However, Sethi does not care to explain this turn of events. Why would somebody who believes in original ideas, suddenly fall for easy temptations such as gambling in a casino. When Karan slips out of his hands, Sethi wastes stock on predictable emotional turmoil and the ends are left hanging. Shahid proves he is a director's actor, Anushka carries confidence and grace in a ravishing role. Chang and Vir Das understand their limitations and do not try to act.

A company that you don't mind!

ANUJ KUMAR

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