Kaminey (2009) | Movie Review

Kaminey has been on my list for more than 5 years. This was Vishal Bharadwaj's first "commercial" movie. The film was rated "A" by the CBFC. This left my brain in a stereotyped state thinking that it was just another Bollywood masala flick. Watching it after 10 years of its release, I realized what I had missed in the past.

TL;DR

Kaminey is a top notch that will remind you of Tarantino's work. At the same time it is very original, very different from all existing work of Hollywood cinema and from previous work of Bharadwaj himself. It is a masala of romance, action, thriller and suspense, but unlike a typical masala, Bharadwaj has not compromised on the quality. Not a single bit of compromise. In today's world where TV series are gaining more popularity than movies, where directors take more than 10000 minutes to tell a story, Bharadwaj's Kaminey ensures same complexity of the characters and their relationship, taking no more than 120 minutes. It is a cult classic. It is arguably the best film based on Mumbai gangsters. I request everyone to watch it at least twice to get a grip if this masterpiece.

Synopsis

Two twins cross each other after three years of separation. One of them is a gambler who gambled away his earnings of 5 years, ₹ 100,000, in a horse-race. The other fell in love with a woman who turned out to be the only sister of a politician & gangster. The first brother gets hold of drugs worth ₹ 100,000,000+ in a gang war. The second brother gets the woman pregnant and ends up marrying her against the will of her brother. Dhan Te Nan! The story takes you through a rollercoaster ride of 2 days that changes their life.

Characters

Most of the characters are dark as you can expect from any gangster movie. What makes this movie stand out is the diversity of characters. There is a gambler who wants to make fast-money. There is a drug dealer who wants to get diamonds in exchange for drugs. There is a politician who wants to get her sister married to a real estate agent to get a million dollar in return. There is a lover boy who stammers while he speaks. There are policemen from narcotics cell who are themselves responsible for supplying drugs. There are three Bengali brothers who deal in arms and narcotics. All of these packed into a single movie. The characters are complex and layered. Each of them trying to get hold of their own share of the easy money.

This is easily the best performance of Shahid Kapoor in his entire career. He has played the role of twin brothers - Charlie & Guddu. who are completely opposite of each other. He proved that he can play characters beyond the usual chocolate boy. The character of a Marathi girl suits Priyanka Chopra. She played the love interest of one of the brothers - Sweety.

There were great performances by supporting characters as well. Out of everyone, my favorites are Amole Gupte (as Bhope Bhau, the brother of Sweety) and Tenzing Nima (as Tashi, the drugs smuggler).

Dialogues

Vishal Bharadwaj has written some very juicy dialogues. They fit into the characters and the dark ambient of the movie. Most of the dialogues are in Hindi. A few of them are in Marathi, specially where the conversation is between two natives of Mumbai. A few more are in Bengali and other international languages. My personal favorites are - "Paise Kamane ke do tareeke hai - Shortcut aur Chota Shortcut", "Ph ko Ph nahi toh kya la bolega?" & "Toh kya rape kiya maine tumhara?".

The dialogues don't use any abusive or slang terms as opposed to what you may believe. There is no use of strong language anywhere. I don't understand why this movie was rated "A". A "U/A" rating should have been sufficient.

Screenplay & Direction

Vishal Bharadwaj's has himself admitted that this is his hardest work till date. The screenplay is gripping. You may say that there are plot holes. That is where I will ask you to watch the movie at least twice to get hold of the story. The first half is where you need some patience for the characters to be built up. You might be a bit bored-off by the romantic conversation between Guddu and Sweety. But all the patience pays back after the first 45 minutes. The story is almost linear - there are some flashbacks, but, there are so many complex characters and their relationships that complicates the entire story.

The screenplay ensures that audience takes back everything out of the masala - romance, thrill and action in the right proportion. Very few directors are successful in maintaining the pace of the movie and Bharadwaj has mastered this art. There is no point where the story seemed to be rushing or dragging.

Overall, the movie seems to be somewhat rushing in the effort to pack it up in 120 minutes. There are some scenes that were cut short (like the one in which the diamonds are brought from Angola or the one in which the Bengali brothers kill Bhope's men and take the dead body of Mikhail from Charlie's home) to save time. Those did add to the overall complexity of the film. However, there is no flow break or plot holes that one may discover.

My favorite scene from the movie is the scene where Charlie is shown running with the horses with the blinkers on his eyes. He returns home only to see [spoiler ahead] that all his father has committed suicide and his gambled money is of no use anymore. This was one brilliant use of metaphorical elements in the movie.

Music

Vishal Bharadwaj is the composer of the music and background score as well. The background score is dark and intense. The songs fit well into the movie without breaking the narrative flow. My favorite picks are Go Charlie Go, Raat ke Dhai Baje and the uplifting Dhan Te Nan. The slow numbers Pehli Baar Mohabbat and Kaminey appear in credits scene and are not a part of the movie. The lyrics are beautifully penned down by Gulzar.

Final words

There is a lot that I can still say. But anything more will be a spoiler. Vishal Bharadwaj is an all rounder. He is a singer, music composer, story & screenplay writer, dialogue writer, and director of the movie. He did all by himself. And when one touches every aspect of an art, he/she creates something that is completely his own, made with love, a masterpiece. That is what Kaminey is. It is a masterpiece. An inspiration for generation of movie makers to make such a caper thriller instead of going for a serialized storytelling. 

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