My news feed was abuzz with the tepid response received by Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Hollywood début movie, ‘Broken Horses’. The movie is inspired by Chopra’s cult classic, ‘Parinda’ that had released to great acclaim and success in 1989.And, of course, the storyline had been suitably adapted to cater to the taste of the Western audience.
It just rekindled my memories of Parinda that was a trendsetter in the gangster movie space – it was sheer realism and lack of melodrama that make it credible. Even the action sequences were neat rising to a crescendo in the final dénouement. And yes, one just cannot get the visuals of the Kabootarkhana out of your mind.
It was a simple story – two orphaned kids arrive in the city of dreams and need to survive. The Elder brother (Jackie Shroff as Kishen) decides early to sacrifice everything to provide his younger brother (Anil Kapoor as Karan) all opportunities in life. Surviving near the sea front by the Gateway of India, Karan makes friends with Prakash (Anupam Kher) and Paro (Madhuri Dixit). Completing the backdrop is Anna (Nana Patekar) who has shown early signs of being eccentric and a criminal bent of mind.
The story’s nucleus has been established with a small series of flashbacks as Karan is returning from America after 6 years on completion of his higher studies. Chopra got his casting right – Jackie and Anil had made a suitable niche of playing brothers, and Nana Patekar was perfect as the maniacal mob boss. The rest of the cast seems like fillers – Musa, Anna’s bête noire, played by Tom Alter could have been given more heft as the story pivots around him. The setting – a coconut oil processing factory – provides a grim realism to the tale.
Karan reunites with his brother bang in the middle of Mumbai traffic and they catch up for couple of minutes with no one honking or interrupting them. That is quite unreal as we well know. Mumbai roads and scenes look so uncluttered and real – it sure brings back a sense of nostalgia. And of course the waterfront has to serve as a backdrop to all illegal activities happening in the gang. The production values are great and the cinematography catches your eye.
Things move at a rapid clip – Prakash is shot dead in Karan’s arms near the Kabootarkhana as he is interfering in Anna’s business. Karan becomes an eye-witness and gets to know the murky happenings that involve even in his brother. Paro wants him to do the right thing by cooperating with the Police. He gets torn by the need to do the right thing and staying true to his filial loyalties. In the end family wins the first round.
Karan moves uncertainly towards Plan B by joining the gang and taking his revenge. The sequence that follows is interesting – the suspense could have been built further by not revealing Karan’s ties with Musa. The rapid murders that follow would have set the cat among the pigeons. It is a bit jarring that all action happens around him but Kishen is quite oblivious to the truth. Kishen is frustrated that Karan has joined the gang and all his sacrifices amount to a zilch now.
A suitable climax seems to be in the offing – Karan has crossed Anna and achieved his plans. Paro accepts him and suggests that they go away to their village. (Paro’s character is not well-defined – it is a mash-up since she is righteous about seeking justice for her brother’s death but quite nonchalant to know that Karan achieved this by having blood on his own hands).
‘Tum Se Mil Ke Aisa Laga Tum Se Mil Ke …’ is a lovely number in the scenic backdrop of the launch on the sea waves as the world celebrates the ‘New Year’. We are all ready now to watch the couple walk off into the sunset.
Then comes the twist in the tale as Musa double crosses Karan and shows his hand to Anna who is hell belt of taking revenge. Karan is simply executed – there is no grandstanding, speech or defense. It is that gory and simple. It unnerves you and sets the tone for the final dénouement. Crime does not pay and Kishen loses everything at the end of it. At the end of it Musa seems to have won the game for now – but really how long will that last till a fresh betrayal undoes him as well?