By Subhash K. Jha
Film: “Commando 2: The Black Money Trail”; Cast: Vidyut Jammwal, Freddy Daruwala, Adah Sharma and Esha Gupta; Director: Deven Bhojani
After a week of drudgery at the theatres when we were coaxed into wading through a self-designed epic slush on war and love, it is such a welcome relief to go to the theatres just to have an unpretentious good time. No offence meant. None taken.
Come, unwind with Vidyut as he cracks some serious bones and FERA codes, brings India’s wealth back into the country and saves civilisation from catastrophe. All done in the vein of a comic book hero who forgot his cape in transit.
Okay, Vidyut is ambitious, and sorry to say, he can’t act. He can fight like a wild untamed beast, though. His reflexes in the action scenes, specially in the hand-to-hand combat with actor Thakur Anoop Singh at the climax on the rooftop of skyscraper, are to die for. Some do. But the deaths are neither gruesome nor bloody. The popcorn never needs to feel guilty in this actioner.
Vidyut’s athletic manoeuvres are simply breathtaking. There is just no other way to put it… or simply breathtaking, as his co-star Adah Sharma playing a designer-wear-shopaholic obsessed with rushing to the nearest shopping mall when she reaches Malaysia to crack an international financial scam, would put it.
Adah, in an unusual role for a leading lady, plays the cop as a bimbo with a thick Hyderabadi accent. She is the attention-seeking comic relief in the speedened-up action flick where wheels within wheels are revealed in quick succession, giving us little time to ponder over the improbabilities.
Also impressive is Freddy Daruwala as a cop with ambivalent morality and loyalties. His character goes through almost as many changes as Adah’s designer wear. Freddy stays in control of his character even when it proves as slippery as some of the roadways of Malaysia where the handsome film is expertly shot by cinematographer Chirantan Das (who last shot the very different “Tanu Weds Manu”).
Esha Gupta’s antagonist’s act is pouty, provocative and sexy. Her character goes through as many shifts as Shatrughan Sinha’s shooting schedules in his heyday. At one point while playing seductive wife to a paraplegic outlaw (Vansh Bhardwaj, who was once brilliant as Preity Zinta’s abusive husband in Deepa Mehta’s “Heaven On Earth”) Esha slinks into Vidyut’s bedroom smooches his lips and cooes, “I can go further to save my husband”.
The screenplay about blackmoney, demonetisation, and yes, ‘desh-bhakti’ plugs all the holes in its script with commanding cleverness. The plot is designed as a brick-building toy that moves in a sly sexy slant and manages to stay up there. Writer Ritesh Shah and Suresh Iyer combine political savvy and pulp fiction with much gusto.
And yes, there is even a message about bankrupt farmers at the end, which is a bit hard to swallow.
You really can’t take the film’s pulp politics seriously. The action is executed with comicbook slickness. The film avoids song breaks. And miraculously for a political thriller, there’s no item song either.
Even more miraculously, in spite of the film’s overt nationalistic pitch, the national anthem doesn’t play even once in the narrative. Except for the entire cast getting together for the end-titles jiving “Hare Krishna hare Rama”.
Don’t miss this galloping concoction of ‘desh-bhakti’ and pulp tourism. Oh yes, there is also the very lovely Shefali Shah playing a politician with mutating loyalties who must protect a wayward son (Suhail Nayyar).
Shades of Shabana Azmi’s “Godmother” in a film that clearly owes allegiance to the spy thrillers of Ravikant Nagaich. Vidyut is Jeetendra from “Farz”. Far more agile and athletic but, alas, far less appealing.