With the word ‘shootout’ in the title of the movie, I expected violence. But I hadn’t bargained for the bloodbath that every scene is soaked in, in the latest Sanjay Gupta movie ‘Shootout At Wadala’. There was no respite from violence from the time I settled in till I left the movie hall.
Like the excessive bullets flying around, the violence is overbearing, almost becoming blunt and ineffective. I agree that a movie about gangsters and police will have inevitable bloodshed, but when the entire movie becomes a chase of action and reaction, it loses appeal.
Based on a true story, and a journalistic account (S Hussain Zaidi’s book ‘Dongri to Dubai’), Shootout is a story of a middle-class young man turning into a gangster. This premise, even as a true story, is cliche because of its repeated use in many movies in the 1980s (Ankush), and the 1990s (Satya). Almost every movie-goer knows the plot.
With that background, the entire journey remains predictable – a teenager with dreamy eyes and a beautiful girlfriend gets falsely implicated by a cop. The young fellow develops anger toward the law enforcement people, and finally meets an unfavorable end.
Since the plot is so well-visited, there was a need for the story-telling to be different. After all, that’s the beauty of movies as a medium. An ordinary story, when told interestingly by many different departments, can bring a fresh perspective – from photography to music, editing, screenplay, dialogues and performances.
The music is catchy and foot-thumping. Performances are memorable, especially of John Abraham who plays the lead. Anil Kapoor and Ronit Roy as cops, and Manoj Vajpayee and Sonu Sood as gangsters, uplift the otherwise monotonous narration.
The dialogues (Milan Milap Zaveri), while fresh and punchy, are overdone. In a few places, they are a bit loud – like a 1980s Bollywood movie where a revolver-wielding man makes the most of the opportunity to bring his frustration out with verbal abuse before pulling the trigger. Shootout should have been more realistic.
The abuse words and expletives, which try to make the movie realistic, are excessive and hence blunt and ineffective. Then there are dialogues that commoditise women (the restaurant scene). While the scene is realistic, do we have to repeat our prejudices on screen and stereotype them?
There are three item numbers in the movie – Sunny Leone (Laila), Sophie Chaudhry (Aala re aala) and Priyanka Chopra (Babli badmaash). The last two item numbers are redundant and could have been avoided.
While the movie-makers’ intent may have been to expose the illegal encounter killings used by Mumbai Police during the 1970s and 1980s, the movie seems more about the war among underworld gangs.
For masala-minded audience, Shootout offers enough ammunition in the form of bold dialogues, rule-bending protagonists, hot item numbers and chauvinistic scenes.
For the seekers of creative and emotional expression, this movie has very little to offer.
Cast: John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Manoj Bajpayee
Director: Sanjay Gupta