Kaanchi: Old whine, new heroine

There are plenty of Ghai moments recycled in Kaanchi.  

The best movie Subhash Ghai has made in 15 years is Iqbal. Handing Nagesh Kukunoor the cheque as producer is probably the only thing he has got right since directing Taal in 1999. During the last decade-and-a-half, he has directed the forgettable Yaadein, the unintentionally hilarious Kisna, an arthouse misadventure called Black & White, and the painfully bad Yuvraaj whose only claim to fame is embarrassing trivia — that Ghai had rejected the tune of ‘Jai Ho’, the song that went on to win more than an Oscar for A.R. Rahman.

Strictly in that context, Kaanchi is his best effort since Taal

This one feels dated too but you need to give the director points for not giving up.

There are plenty of Ghai moments recycled as if he’s paying tribute to himself. For instance, the Karz moment involving the jeep… only, instead of a temple there’s a Jai Jawan memorial here. If Saudagar had Dilip Saab and Raaj Kumar, we have Rishi Kapoor and Mithun Chakraborty as veterans to make up for the young cast. If Khalnayak had ‘Choli Ke Peeche’, Kaanchi has ‘Kambal Ke Neeche’ (NOT kidding!). Hell, Chandan Roy Sanyal’s Bagula is Lakhan redux — crook in police uniform working for the bad guys.

But to make all of this sound modern, Ghai sets his old-school whine against the system in the backdrop of a modern youth-based revolution against corruption. He is ambitious enough to want a 19-year-old heroine to carry the film, and newcomer Mishti looks fresh, radiant and promising… until she opens her mouth. And then it’s all downhill. Mishti’s voice is shrill and Ghai makes her scream quite a lot. Like the girl, Kaanchi looks great but when it tries to make a point, we just can’t take it seriously given how loud it is. The over-the-top acting instantly reveals her limitations. And his.

The rest of the cast tries hard to rise beyond the material. Kartik Aaryan and Chandan Roy Sanyal play opposites within the good camp with considerable sincerity while Rishi Kapoor and Mithun Chakraborty embrace the bad and go-all-out camp. And we have the reliable Adil Hussain doing his best to lend the film a little class and restraint in the film’s message-y moral-of-the-story portions.

The only thing we can celebrate regarding Kaanchi is the coming of age of another epic cliché of our times. No more ‘police ne chaaron taraf se tumhe gher liya hai’ (the police have surrounded you from all four sides). Today’s villains only need to worry regarding the omnipresent ‘midiya-waale’ who are quick to broadcast elaborate confessions made unwittingly by them and to come swooping down from all four sides, on cue.

The Interval frame captures this celebration of clichés perfectly. When the girl jumps off the cliff, the camera shows the Nirupa Roy-type mother who puts her palm on her mouth in grief. That ‘mouthpalm’ moment — with that exact expression — is the precise response Kaanchi evokes.

Genre: Drama

Director: Subhash Ghai

Cast: Mishti, Kartik Aaryan, Rishi Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty, Chandan Roy Sanyal

Storyline: A 19-year-old girl decides to fight the system to avenge a personal loss

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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 5:10:29 PM |

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