Friday, April 1, 2011

Film review: Game

Director: Abhinay Deo
Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Kangna Ranaut, Boman Irani, Sara Jane Dias, Gauhar Khan, Shahana Goswami, Jimmy Shergill
Stars: * 1/2

It's hard to believe why producers Farhan Akhtar and debutant director Abhinay Deo would want to make a thriller, if all they could come up is a poor version of a Abbas-Mastan film. The latter pair is known to adapt Hollywood thrillers, turning them into stylised masala fares that are more often than not, quite watchable. With Game, the problem is that it's neither a plausible, edge-of-the-seat thriller and neither does it work as a commercial entertainer. The moments of drama, emotions and songs are all tepid and dull. The premise is both weak and unconvincing, the characters are poorly etched and the script singularly lacks spunk and originality.

A billionaire, Malhotra (Anupam Kher) in a bid to settle some scores for his daughter's (Sarah Jane Dias) murder, invites four strangers connected to the incident to his island. None of them really know why they are being called, except that Malhotra has promised to forward their careers in whatever way. This itself is a bizarre idea - that people staying in different continent would line up to meet a businessman they've never even met. The trouble begins there and the script remains drab and scratchy till the very end.

The persons invited include an Istanbul-based casino-owner, Neil (Abhishek Bachchan), a Bollywood actor, Vikram Kapoor (Jimmy Shergill), a ministerial candidate (Boman Irani) and a suicidal crime reportar (Shahana Goswami). Each of them is named guilty by Malhotra for various reasons. But before he can avenge his daughter's death, another murder takes place in the island, and the needle of suspicion is directed towards each of the characters present. Also part of the mix is Malhotra's secretary, Samara (Gauhar Khan).

None of this is remotely fresh. Malhotra's back story about losing his wife and daughter is laughable, while the Abhishek-Sarah Jane romance is a yawn-fest. The film stutters and stumbles throughout the first half, never really being able to establish the story. The twists are all predictable and stale. The second half gathers some momentum with Kangna's entry as an investigating officer, but the film never acquires the edge that is so important for a thriller.

The only actor who shines in this lack-lustre fare is Boman Irani. The rest, including Abhishek, Kangna and Anupam, deliver average performances. This was supposed to be Sara Jane's debut film, and though she looks smashing, hers is an altogether badly conceived two-bit role. Shahana Goswami, who is generally solid, seems confused about what she's exactly expected to do here.

Abhinay Deo's debut directorial effort is a terrible let-down. The onus must essentially be on writer Althea Delmas Kaushal and Excel for the mediocre script. And Deo of course has been unable to rescue it in any which way.