Director: Atul Sabharwal
The Indian Express rating **
Somewhere in the too-complicated strands of Aurangzeb is a film struggling to cohere. This is what we have: too many subplots with threads hanging,criss-crossing a main plot that is over baked and undercooked. A nephew (Prithivraj) brought up by his chacha (Rishi) as he has serious problems with his loser father (Kher). Identical twins separated as babies,now grown into very different individuals (Arjun). Long suffering mother (Azmi) buffeted between the two. Filthy rich businessman (Shroff) with corrupt practices. Greedy female associate (Amrita Singh) with sharp claws. Good cops,bad cops. All roiling in Bollywoods new Wild Westthe National Capital Region of Gurgaon.
The trouble with Aurangzeb is not that it isnt ambitious. It is,and thats good. Because after a long time theres a film which invites you to work on unraveling the threads. But right from its too-crowded epilogue,where information about the characters comes flying out at you,to its curiously impact-less lead player who sparks to life on occasion,to its long-drawn scenes where sometimes you feel the lines are being said only for effect and not because they have organically grown out of the conversation,Aurangzeb is trying for too much. This makes the film dense and uneven: some parts have power,the others are inert.
These locations in Gurgaon havent been heavily exposed yet,but this mix of the builder mafia and collusive cops and poor farmers have a familiar ring to it. The view of the ultra-modern Metro cutting across a rapidly growing township which has both the feel of mall-and-multiplex American suburbia and empty stretches of agricultural land gives Aurangzeb its distinctive look. You wish more juice had come out of the sharp contrast,though.
This is Arjun Kapoors second film,and he is already in a double role. Ajay and Vishal may look alike,but one is nice and sensitive,the other is brash and crass (a bit like his character in his debut Ishaqzaade): Kapoor is more in synch with the second avatar. More effective than him,and in fact all the other good actors in this film,is Rishi Kapoor. As the policeman who will be king,who has not one soft shred in his hard,hard head,and who will kill a close relative rather than be caught on the wrong foot,Kapoor is terrific. Its also nice to have Amrita Singh back amongst us even if her role is constricted. After flashing his beautifully muscled abs,Prithviraj has a fully-fleshed part: this is an actor whom I want see more of. Theres also a debutant with an interesting lineage: Sasha Agha daughter of Salma (remember her?),and appears promising.
There is no doubt that Sabharwal has a voice,which is evident in the less constructed parts of Aurangzeb. Maybe it will emerge fully with his second film.