Kaanchi review: It's time for Subhash Ghai to retire
Okay, let’s face it: Subhash Ghai has never really been a ‘good’ filmmaker in the classical sense. His movies are and have always been bombastic, jingoistic and unsubtle. Yet, through nearly four decades, the ‘showman’ of Bollywood has been lauded for his entertaining brand of cinema which, if nothing else, at least featured iconic music and exciting acting discoveries. Thanks to his obsession with the letter ‘M’, Ghai is famous for having given breaks to actresses such as Meenakshi Sheshadri, Madhuri Dixit and Manisha Koirala, amongst others.
His latest muse follows this trend: Mishti Mukherjee (real name Indrani Chakraborty) is the central showpiece of Kaanchi: The Unbreakable, his first film in six years since Yuvraaj (2008). Described in interviews as a tale of ‘women empowerment’, Mishti plays the eponymous character who, after witnessing the murder of her best friend and fiancé Binda (Kartik Aryan), decides to take on the might of the politically powerful Kakda family, headed by politician Shyam Kakda (Mithun Chakraborty).
Kaanchi: The Unbreakable has good intentions and that’s about the only positive thing that can be said about this amateurish, infantile disaster. This is the kind of movie where characters look into the camera and wink, to indicate to the audience that what is about to follow is a joke. It’s the kind of movie where one character says something to the effect of “You know how dangerous I can be” to another, with the straightest of faces. It’s the kind of film that seems to have been put together to give students from Whistling Woods International, Ghai’s Mumbai-based film school, a chance to exercise the skills they just learned in the classroom.
At this point, I can already see the comments below exhorting me, as they do week after week, to “calm down; what were you expecting?” or “go back to the US, you jealous failed rock band rookie” (fun fact: I have never, ever been to the US). But come on, surely, there needs to be a minimum expectation that we’re allowed to have from filmmakers in 2014, for heaven’s sake? In a year that has already seen superior films such as Dedh Ishqiya, Highway, Queen and Aankhon Dekhi, Ghai directs this film as though it’s still 1991, complete with a raucous background score that has been mixed so badly, it ensures you have a headache by the interval.
Set in the fictional hamlet of Koshampa in Uttaranchal, the first half of the film depicts Kaanchi as a headstrong, annoyingly-cutesy girl who attracts the attention of Sushant Kakda (TV actor Rishabh Sinha), who is Shyam’s son. Goaded by his sleazy uncle (played enthusiastically by Rishi Kapoor), Sushant finds himself at loggerheads with Binda, who is Kaanchi’s best friend and eventual love interest. Soon enough, Binda is run over off a cliff by Sushant’s car, in a scene which shows how Ghai thinks that wire stunts can and should only be used as homages to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
A distraught Mishti commits ‘suicide’ by jumping into a river, but in reality, swims past four villages, arrives at Dehradun and makes her way to Mumbai to plot her revenge. There, she tracks down a long-lost friend, Ratanlal Bagula (Chandan Roy Sanyal), who is now a sub-inspector. As the film moves towards its increasingly predictable and melodramatic ending, it incorporates a laughably half-baked ‘India Against Corruption’ angle, featuring a visibly embarrassed Mita Vashisht.
Aside from terrible, expository dialogue, Kaanchi: The Unbreakable features borderline unbearable acting from nearly everyone, barring veterans such as Kapoor and Chakraborty. Mishti, possessor of a ‘nails on blackboard’ shriek, is the kind of pretty-looking debutante who has mistaken acting for school-level elocution. While her face and the setting may remind one of Aishwarya Rai from Ghai’s Taal (1999), Kaanchi cannot even be compared to that due to the lack of a single memorable song. The music by Salim-Sulaiman and Ismail Darbar is downright forgettable (also, that ‘Kambal Ke Neeche’ song is the most cringe-worthy thing I’ve seen on screen this year).
This is a vapid filmmaking exercise, done simply for the sake of launching a new heroine and executed by pulling favours from old friends and junior associates. It’s an example of the kind of cinema that Bollywood needs to leave behind as soon as possible if it wants to appeal to a younger, smarter audience.
It may be time for Ghai to hang up his boots before he destroys what remains of his legacy any further, and let his students take over. Surely they can’t do a worse job than this?
Updated Date: Apr 27, 2014 09:56:18 IST