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Aug 15, 2009 at 02:03am IST

Masand's movie review: Kaminey

Cast: Shahid Kapur, Priyanka Chopra, Amole Gupte, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Tenzing Nima, Shiv Subramanium

Director: Vishal Bharadwaj

When was the last time you came out of a film wishing you could go back in and watch it again immediately so the excitement in your stomach stays longer?

Vishal Bharadwaj's Kaminey is a film you'll either love or passionately despise.

It's an unpredictable crime drama that combines violence and dark humor in a manner that's reminiscent of the films of Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie and the Coen Brothers. And yet Kaminey is so original and inventive in the manner in which it takes Bollywood's favorite formula - twin brothers - and turns it on its head.

Shahid Kapur is cast as both twins, each saddled with a speech impediment. Charlie, the small-time gangster has a lisp, he pronounces every 's' as 'f'; meanwhile Guddu is a timid NGO worker who stammers when he speaks.

There's no love lost between the boys, who haven't seen each other for three years, so we follow their tracks separately, until suddenly their lives collide.

Charlie has chanced upon a guitar that contains cocaine worth 10 crore rupees. His life is made, he thinks.

Guddu, on the other hand, has got his girlfriend pregnant, and as luck would have it, turns out she's the sister of a local gangster-politician.

Take that as a cue for much mayhem which involves encounters with dreaded drug-lords, corrupt cops and the quirkiest set of henchmen any Hindi film has ever produced.

The real strength of Kaminey is its writing. The non-linear screenplay is filled with unfamiliar twists and confusing turns that are likely to baffle you along the way; yet they're all neatly tied up and culminate in a thrilling climax which is violent and comical in equal parts.

The film's dialogue is top-notch; writer-director Vishal Bharadwaj finds a way to make the lines humorous without ever seeming to ask for a laugh.

Take the scene in which Guddu squarely blames his girlfriend for getting pregnant, and she retaliates with an outburst, demanding to know if she'd raped him then.

Or the scene in which a cop Lobo coaxes Guddu to give a police statement in song, because that's the only way to get the kid to communicate without a stutter.

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Kaminey boasts the best performance you will see by an ensemble cast in a long time, and that includes even the bit players.

Of the central cast, Amole Gupte is fantastic as the demented Jai Maharashtra-spouting gangster-politician Bhope, and Chandan Roy Sanyal hits all the right notes as the coke-addicted Mikhail.

Also delivering impressive turns are Tenzing Nima as the charismatic drug-smuggler Tashi and Shiv Subramanium as the vulnerable corrupt cop Lobo.

Shahid Kapur rises to the challenge of creating two entirely different characters out of Charlie and Guddu, and delivers a credible performance as each.

Breaking out of his chocolate-boy image, he gives evidence of his potential when trusted with well-written roles.

Springing a delightful surprise in a smaller part is Priyanka Chopra as the feisty Sweety, who sprinkles her lines with a smattering of fluent Marathi and emerges one of the film's most lovable characters.

For an audience numbed by predictable Bollywood potboilers week after week, Kaminey might take some time to settle into; go in with an open mind and enjoy the ride.

With unchoreographed action scenes and dances, and long portions with no background score at all, it's a wildly imaginative, original offering from a fearless filmmaker who doesn't insult your intelligence.

I'm going with four out of five for director Vishal Bharadwaj's Kaminey; amidst all the bloodshed and bullets, this film has a full beating heart. As Charlie would say: It's a MUFT-WATCH.

Rating: 4 / 5 (Very Good)

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