October 22, 2010 5:58:20 pm
Any resemblance to Phone Booth is purely media-hype. Writer-director Mani Shankar takes a few ideas from that Hollywood thriller to spin a completely different and original tale. High-tech gizmos form the base of this taut thriller yarn to the extent that gun-man Sanjay Dutt says,Who needs human beings? For me,technology is enough!
Bachubhai aka Tony Khosla (Irrfan Khan) is an investment banker who helps politicians stash away kickbacks in Swiss banks. By nature prone to pleasures of the flesh outside his marriage (though he loves his wife and daughter),he operates his shady work from a public phone booth so that no one can trace him. He is caught on a bad day by an unknown caller (Sanjay Dutt) who can clearly see him and even shoot at him and knows everything about the shady sides of both his personal and professional lives.
From here begins an edgy drama of how Tony is trapped into confessing his sins in public. But who is the caller? What is his game? And what roles do an intrepid television reporter Nidhi (Kangna Ranaut) and an honest police officer (Sushant Singh) play in the drama that unfolds within hours both within the film and for the audience?
Knock Out is a no-nonsense thriller with patriotic overtones. It sticks to its linear plot,generating all the thrills,technical razzmatazz (dont forget that it is VFX ace Mani Shankar at the helm),humour and drama from its focussed narration rather than from masala add-ons. There are no frills or diversions,except for a few crisp and relevant flashback interludes. Mani also eschews songs,despite recording a complete soundtrack that included an item number.
The film acquires a lot of strength from its snazzy pace,a slick look at the media influence and the powerful dialogues (Shiraz Race and Wanted Ahmed). The background score (Atul Raninga and Sanjay Wandrekar of 3 Idiots fame) is excellent. Cinematography (N.Natarajan Subramanim),action (Allan Amin),in-house VFX and sound (Andrew Belletty) are all superb,as are the principal Pune locations that give a very international look to the film.
The climax is fascinating,though the editor could have done a crisper job in some of the midway portions. Director Mani Shankar achieves redemption after three consecutive turkeys (Rudraksh,Tango Charlie,Mukhbiir) but could have made the final patriotic angle pack a strong punch instead of coming across as lukewarm.
Sanjay Dutt as the ruthless caller and tormentor is fantastic,and he gets a great match in Irrfan,with whom he shares almost three-fourths of the film without ever getting into the same frame! Kangna is okay but Sushant Singh,Gulshan Grover as the wily politician and Apoorva Lakhia in a cameo leave strong impacts. But what will go against the film besides a wrong season of release will be the meaningless title (that too in English). Calling Tony could have been one better option – it was at least apt!
One star for the slick pace,one for the actors and one for the creative and technical plus-es.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines