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'John Day' review: It's an unoriginal and uninspiring thriller


Rajeev Masand,CNN-IBN
Sep 14, 2013 at 10:46am IST

Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Randeep Hooda, Elena Kazan, Shernaz Patel

Director: Ahishor Solomon

'John Day', directed by first-timer Ahishor Solomon, is a film that should come with a statutory warning. The convoluted plot gives you a throbbing migraine, but I'd also caution you to go see this film on an empty stomach or you might lose your lunch over the gut-churning violence depicted throughout. In one scene, Randeep Hooda's character, a corrupt cop named Gautam, violently locks lips with a gangster, then bites off the poor guy's tongue and spits it out, even as the victim spouts blood like a fountain. Our protagonist, 'John Day', played by Naseeruddin Shah, is also given to ferocious bursts. When cornered by thugs, he sinks his teeth into one fella's neck and tears off a chunk of flesh.

The two leads cross paths when bank manager John decides to deliver payback to those responsible for his daughter's death and his wife's accident. Along the way, he uncovers a powerful secret behind a file of papers that Gautam is desperate to lay his hands on. Gautam, who is secretly working for the mafia, has a depressing past involving sexual abuse. No wonder he's become a raging psychopath who bludgeons men with iron rods at the slightest provocation.

The film's plot, suspiciously similar to the Spanish crime thriller 'Box 507', involves land-grabbing conspiracies, double-crossing cops, and crooked politicians. Yet 'John Day' never achieves the nail-biting unpredictability of that film because it's handled so amateurishly, and often edited in a haphazard fashion. But it's the religious overtones that are most baffling here. From a gun hidden in a carved-out Bible to repeated images of Christ and the holy cross, and even a chase scene unfolding to the tune of 'Silent Night', the Christian references in this film could give The Da Vinci Code a run for its money.

With over-complicated plot turns and heavy-handed performances, the film is difficult to endure. Thespian Naseeruddin Shah, who usually makes acting seem as easy as riding a bicycle, fumbles around this clunky film...and he's sporting orange-dyed hair to boot. Randeep Hooda, meanwhile, overdoes the snarling, and tires you with all the cussing and the gruesome violence. His girlfriend in the film, played by Elena Kazan, provides unintentional laughs here, playing a permanently drunk babbler who at one point pulls out a hip flask in a bank.

The film then is sloppy and contrived; it's an unoriginal and uninspiring thriller that's let down by flabby writing. I'm going with one-and-a-half out of five for 'John Day'. Shernaz Patel, who plays the part of Naseeruddin Shah's wife, spends more than three-fourths of the film passed out in a coma. Lucky her.

Rating: 1.5 / 5

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