The Telegraph
Saturday , May 4 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shootout misses the mark

Save for a few lucky shots, Shootout At Wadala takes bullets in the arm, legs and shoulder to die a painful death. The absence of Sanjay Dutt’s ACP Shamsher Khan and Vivek Oberoi’s Maya Dolas is clearly felt as early as 20 minutes into the film. The new ACP saab, Ishaque Bagwan (Anil Kapoor), has as much idea of encounter killings as a teetotaller of the booze cabinet. And the wannabe baap of Mumbai, Manya Surve (John Abraham), is all huff-puff and no brains. But a thali of guns, profanity and sleaze cannot go all wrong, especially when more than a 1,000 rounds of ammo are wasted, spaced out by three item numbers and a few sex-bench push-ups.

Unlike the Lokhandwala episode, which had an arresting opening sequence of bloodstains getting licked by a dog, Wadala relies too much on quick-gun routines in a story that lacks focus. Is it about Surve’s revenge to take down the guys who had put a bhola-bhala college-going guy behind bars, thus killing his family dreams with Vidya Joshi (Kangana Ranaut)? Is it about Surve’s greed to replace Mumbai’s ruling kingpins and brothers Zubair (Manoj Bajpai) and Dilawar (Sonu Sood)? Is it about Ishaque’s journey to become an encounter expert? Or is it director Sanjay Gupta’s attempt to collect box-office stash by turning in another 1980s-style Bombay mafia flick that’s (very) loosely based on S. Hussain Zaidi’s book From Dongri to Dubai? It’s all such a hotchpotch.

Wadala opens with ageing college student Surve trying to earn himself a degree for the sake of his classmate Vidya. Just when life appears hunky-dory, enter his big bad brother chased by goons. Our boy tries to save him but gets involved in the mess. Wrongly convicted, he decides to “go to the mattresses”. First he gets his muscles pumped up and then lets out some Sanjay Dutt barks. A hero needs a sidekick and who better than Tusshar Kapoor (as Sheikh Munir)!

Once they flee, Surve sets a simple agenda –– bite Vidya’s lips while making her taste the aftershave in his moustache, harass the police, find work with the ruling brothers, get slapped, begin a merry gang and finally attract the ire of the ACP.

Villainous villains can only be allowed in a flick with a strong hero and sadly, it’s Manoj Bajpai and Sonu Sood who steal the show. Bajpai is still in Gangs of Wasseypur mode. He plays a sher whose roar scares Surve, so much so that he takes him down (with the help of his entire gang) at a deserted petrol pump.

Then there is the curious case of ACP Bagwan. Amitabh Bachchan as Dingra (the lawyer for the Anti-Terrorism Squad) held the flashbacks together in Lokhandwala with some fine one-liners but the new ACP is too deeply involved in the plot to make any sense of the flashbacks. Equally confusing is why he begins in Jack Bauer mode and then drops the routine to become Inspector Lakhan Pratap Singh (Ram Lakhan) and then just a ham trying to be a police officer.

But then every cloud has a silver lining and in Wadala, it’s three action sequences –– the kingpin brothers crushing the head of one of their enemies through a sugarcane pressing machine; them chopping off the arms of another enemy and Surve landing a corrupt police officer on a heap of burning firecrackers.

And the three useless item numbers? Well, taking bronze is Sophie Choudry, then comes Babli badmaash Priyanka Chopra and Sunny Leone wins lingerie… umm legs down.

In short, Shootout At Wadala is all bangs, butts and brutes.