Dhan Te Nan! It's time to sound the bugle for Bollywood's first film which is full of brains, brawn and belligerence besides being a bravura attempt to rewrite the tried and tested idiom of desi movielore.
Yes, Kaminey is a smart and balsy film that brings Hollywood to Bollywood, reminiscent of the adventurism of Quentin Tarantino's action thrillers which catapult the viewer into the dark, violent world of crime and criminals, leaving you no time to blink or breathe easy.
More importantly, Kaminey is the first film which also credits its viewers with some intelligence. It demands your unbridled attention from the word GO and allows you to sit back only at your own peril. For if you aren't attentive and intelligent to figure some things out yourself, specially in the first half hour, you might be missing the twists in this sassy tale of twin brothers who end up hating and loving each other, all in a frenetic 24-hour time span. Of course, director Vishal Bhardwaj does tell it all gradually, but he presumes you'll solve the jigsaw without much of spoon feeding. And therein lies the power of Kaminey. It teases you with its smartness and constantly challenges you to keep pace with the breathless tenor of the drama that unfolds through fast cuts, dizzy hand-held camera angles and a dark, brooding ambience. Watching Kaminey is like sitting on the edge of a volcano which can explode any time. And explode it does!
Thematically too, Kaminey is a complete turnaround of the archetypal Bollywood script. You have the two brothers, but they detest each other. If Guddu, with the adorable stammer, prefers to live right -- he's the goal-oriented, peace-loving, non-violent common man types -- then Charlie, with the delectable speech defect, is hell-bent to get rich quick, any which way. Morals be damned. But one muggy day, the brothers find their lives turn turtle. Guddu must marry the maverick mee-Marathi-manoos politician's (Amole Gupte) aggro sister, Sweety (Priyanka Chopra) while Charlie, a small time gangster, must find buyers for the cache of cocaine which he steals from a bunch of corrupt cops. End result? Guddu ends up earning the ire of the rabid neta who cannot see his sister settling down with a non-Maharashtrian and Charlie enrages not only the crooked cops but an entire gang of drug smugglers headed by the wily Tashi (Tenzing Nima). The drama hits feverish pitch when the brothers end up with the wrong baddies and the only way to sort out the mess is to finally meet. Will Charlie give up his get-rich-quick dreams to ensure a happy end to Guddu's `fo fweet' love story? Will Guddu stop hating his twin for his errant ways and display some bhai-bhai emotion? Settle down for an edge-of-the-seat climax that brings Reservoir Dogs to Bollywood. Absolutely riveting stuff, with the camera going on a hitherto unexplored journey in Indian cinema.
Kaminey mostly draws its powers from the brilliant music score (Vishal Bhardwaj) and the innovative cinematography (Tassaduq Hussain) which creates a whole new playground for criminals, thugs and goons to revel in. But it's the performances that leave you spellbound too. If Shahid Kapur brings alive two completely different characters as the wimpish Guddu versus the whacko Charlie, then Priyanka Chopra's Sweety completely reinvents the actor from glamour girl to earthy, fiery, unpredictable and impossibly in love Marathi mulgi. Scriptwriter Amole Gupte (Taare Zameen Par) makes an absoultely dhamaal debut as the wily neta who is ready to sell his ideology (Maharashtra only for Maharashtrians) for a substantial sum of money. And newcomer Chandan Roy Sanyal is memorable as Mikhail, Charlie's edgy gangster buddy.
But eventually, Kaminey is a director's story. Vishal Bhardwaj not only gives you a crackling screenplay, brimming over with smart one-liners, he creates cameos that stay with you long after curtain call. Example: Priyanka's drunken seduction act, where she declares she loves Guddu more than Mumbai, Chennai, Thiruvanthapuram....Amole Gupte and Chandan Roy's childish caper with the gun as Bope and Tope, Shahid's `Fiderman' dance, the high-strung encounter between Charlie and Guddu, the Dhan Te Nan exuberance and the high-decibel climax. Truly, Kaminey's a heady vodka martini, leaving you both shaken and stirred. And no, don't even ask for the popcorns. You'll leave them untouched coz this one just isn't the regular-run-of-the-mill popcorn flick.
Tarantino, take a bow. Brave new Bollywood is here.