Machine movie review: There's nothing 'mast mast' about this Abbas-Mastan thriller
The opening credits of director duo Abbas-Mastan’s launchpad for son/nephew Mustafa, shows an elaborate graphic of human organs. The camera travels into a human ear and ends up in the heart area. A red and black throbbing globule hangs off some branches. At first I thought it was a beetle bug, but it turned out to be a beating heart receiving some kind of external shock.
What does this have to do with Sarah (Kiara Advani), the student in flowing capes who gets her kicks out of race-driving? Or Ransh (Mustafa) the new student who beats her at the finish line and wins both the race and her heart? Or Aditya (Eshan Shanker) the ‘bestie’ who woos Sarah with letters written in blood? And what about the college play based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in which the screenplay writer of Machine (Sanjeev Kaul) has audaciously introduced a new act – the Heaven Act! Heaven knows!
If you think you can predict where this story is going, let me share that there is a double role, a foster father, a murder plot, a catalogue of sub-standard actors, even worse computer graphics and a number of tedious songs that are timed to distract you from the drivel being delivered in the previous scene.
If the filmmakers wanted to distract us from the absurdity playing out, the hairstyles and costumes were enough.
This is not Abbas-Mastan at their best (Baazigar, Race). It’s them at their worst, attempting to rehash Baazigar with the same 1980s style which is obviously way past its sell-by date.
Ransh and Sarah have a whirlwind romance and an even quicker marriage. Oddly her father (Ronit Roy) does not question Ransh’s background, family situation or future prospects. That he can race a car and loves Sarah seems to be enough. The presence of Ronit Roy not being psychotic is enough to set off alarm bells (and rightfully so).
The only real surprise is that in his launch vehicle, Mustafa plays the antagonist. He’s the eponymous ‘machine’ – a heartless man programmed to do evil in order to further his father’s insatiable greed.
If anything, Machine reinforces the dynastic practice in Bollywood which offers opportunities to even the most unqualified progeny.
As for Kiara Advani, she continues to be a by-the-numbers archetype “Bollywood heroine” – pouting and posing with perfectly blow dried hair.
Also in the cast is Eshan Shanker in a peculiar double role and Carla Dennis as another one of Ransh’s unsuspecting preys.
Is there any redeeming factor? If you think it’s the reworked 'Chatur naar' or 'Tu cheez badi hai mast' songs, the originals are the ones that will stay etched in time.
Since walking out the film, I have had David Guetta’s ‘I’m a machine’ playing in my head:
“Cuz I’m a machine baby
And you got the keys baby
I’m a machine baby
And I’m unstoppable”
If things weren’t bad enough, I went from from brain-dead to earworm.