Cast: Leander Paes, Jimmy Shergill, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Sudhansu Pandey, Gulshan Grover, Achint Kaur, Sayali Bhagat, Pooja Bose
Director: Ashok Kohli
Don't get surprised by the number of known faces in the film, these people are actually there, however it's difficult to explain why.
'Rajdhani Express' deals with a mentally fragile guy called Keshav (Leander Paes), at least this is how the character comes across, who is running away from a dreaded Delhi man Bhaijee (Kiran Kumar). Where would he go other than Mumbai, this is happening since time immemorial, and no point for guessing that the train he boards is 'Rajdhani Express'. His fellow passengers make Keshav realise that discrimination exists all over the world though in different forms.
The germ of the film seems nice to you? Well, it may, but the only problem is that you need to spend a considerable amount of time to figure out the real deal of the story. So, Keshav is on a journey of his lifetime with BC Banerjee (Priyanshu), Munish (Sudhansu Pandey) and Sunita (Pooja Bose) when the train suddenly starts to travel the highway to the hell.
The man who is controlling the strings is a Mumbai based police officer Yadav (Jimmy Shergill). He wants to settle some old scores with a politician Indrale (Ishrat Ali) for not very apparent reasons. Now, Keshav needs to maintain his nerves in a situation that can drive anyone (read audiences) crazy.
Ashok Kohli tries his best to open the film at a promising note but all efforts go in vain due to careless writing. It's not like that the story or the characters were not given their backstories but somehow the director failed to bring them out properly on the celluloid.
The injustices suffered by Leander's character don't evoke any emotion, chiefly because of bad acting and partly because of the lack of imagination in the camera work. The cinematographer has hardly captured him in close ups or may be it's the other way round.
Priyanshu keeps forgetting his accent, once he does so in an entire scene, and Sudhansu Pandey appears completely clueless about the next sequence. The screenplay doesn't explain the utility of Pooja Bose apart from adding some 'cheap' thrills.
Jimmy Shergill tries but his character hasn't been given a good motive that could justify his deeds, however he is the one who doesn't leave the hope till the last shot. His introductory shot is really funny when he looks into the camera the way Shakti Kapoor used to look in early 80s. Such neck craning couldn't be his own idea!
Leander Paes is the real disappointment; he is likely to wait for some more time for a better foray into Bollywood. The ace tennis player needs some dialogue delivery practice. He looks miserable in the scene where he stands up in rage to beat up Sudhansu. The storyteller was required to put some weight into Leander's reactions. He appears angry and inconsolable in sequences where he was needed to downplay.
One good thing about 'Rajdhani Express' is that it has used one of Mirza Ghalib's ghazal which perfectly suits Leander's laughing act in the climax, "Pehle aati thi haal-i-dil pe hansi, ab kisi baat pe nahi aati."
Sub standard performances and patchy direction hamper the chances of 'Rajdhani Express' despite good intentions. Leander Paes is the chief bait and a connecting thread between sub-plots but it doesn't happen. Now, everything depends on the unconditional blessings of his die hard fans.
'Rajdhani Express' emerges as a highly confused venture and doesn't succeed in establishing a connect with the audience at any point.
Rating: 1 out of 5.