7 hours to go review: City of clichés

In 7 Hours to Go, Saurabh Varma tries to make a hostage-drama-meets-heist movie that is quintessentially Mumbai. Early in the film, we see Arjun Ranawat (Shiv Pandit) taking seven hostages with him in the High Court because his girlfriend is shot dead in public by some powerful builder mafia man. Now he demands to correspond with a police officer called Shukla Ji (Sandeepa Dhar), who he believes is the only person that provide instant justice. The time given to her is seven hours.

Varma was inspired by a real-life incident that occurred several years ago when a man hijacked a bus full of passengers in Kurla to make similar demands. While the premise may be real, it is not entirely novel. We have seen something similar in A Wednesday, where a common man demands action by shaking up the system. 7 hours to go draws from films of the familiar genre but fails to do anything new with them. It is still engaging up to the point of introduction of characters – an overtly Maharashtrian cop, an unconvincingly pretty lady cop in charge, a designer beard sporting shady builder villain and a childlike psychopath serial killer.

Shiv Pandit as the dour and focused wronged common man is decent enough to hold our attention. But things become increasingly preposterous as the film proceeds. Firstly, the decision to have a lady cop like Shukla Ji comes across as faux-feminist move when she is made to change into a T-shirt in front of a male colleague. Why would anyone do that? And then in the second half, she is reduced to a pawn in the big game orchestrated by Arjun’s genius. There is a thin line between cheesy pleasure and ironical fun. 7 Hours to Go lands on the latter side way too many times. The suited, sunglass-sporting villain, who plays golf and kills people, is ridiculously one note and uncharismatic. Varun Badola as the seemingly corrupt cop is perhaps the most entertaining of the performances.

The film is decently photographed but overdoes the Mumbai crime movie clichés. There is a vada pav shot every ten minutes and the camera takes extra care to show us obnoxious cops scratching their backs. Worst still is the done-to-death use of a Ganesh visarjan as an unlikely backdrop to the drama. We are shown a random girl in hot pants -- straight out of a bad T-Series music video -- dancing in the procession at Girgaon Chowpatty to an annoying song called ‘Balvinder Dance’.

The film’s moments of pulpy pleasures in the first half are succeeded by a laughable second portion when the film suddenly transforms into a sleek heist movie with unbelievably high-tech gadgets and security vaults.

The film’s biggest failure is to not make us care for any of the characters: all victims of terrible crimes. It uses stunts from movies like Usual Suspects and Now You See Me for effect -- faking deceitful identities to fool the system and leaving clues all around the city to prove how clever the protagonist is. There is an attempt of a Psycho touch in the serial killer’s relationship with her Tai. Then there are lines like, “He is neither black nor white. He is grey.” I was guilty of missing the first ten minutes of the film, but I’m kinda glad I had to watch less of it.

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Printable version | Sep 10, 2021 7:04:57 AM |

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