Lootcase movie review: Harmless, predictable timepass with an aam aadmi and dirty cash
Lootcase isn't terrible - not at all. It is half done, but it is also well begun. It is predicable, but it is also harmless. If you are in an undemanding mood, then it is not a bad film to spend your time on.
castKunal Kemmu, Rasika Dugal, Gajraj Rao, Vijay Raaz, Ranvir Shorey
It is unlikely that anyone has ever experienced such joy outside a Sulabh Sauchalaya as Nandan Kumar did that night - when a film kicks off with these words after its middle-class hero finds cash stashed away at the entrance of a public toilet, it holds out a promise of the sort of impertinent humour Hindi cinema rarely does. Black comedy is a genre Bollywood has not often visited or had much success with. In that sense, for those looking for something out of the ordinary from this film industry, writer-director Rajesh Krishnan's Lootcase sets itself up well.
Not that the opening plot point is novel: just last month, for instance, Netflix released director Anurag Kashyap's Choked: Paisa Bolta Hai, that was about a middle-class housewife who finds bundles of cash floating up out of the drain below her kitchen sink. Still, Lootcase offers hope that it might have something new to say with the blend of laughter, suspense and menace in its early scenes. (Note: Kashyap was in poor form with Choked - that is a separate discussion.)
Nandan works at a printing press in Mumbai and lives in seedy, cramped quarters with his disgruntled wife and demanding son. One night when he chances upon a suitcase filled with Rs 2,000 notes, he sees a way out of his daily drudgery.
Nandan is honest in the way human beings tend to be when they have never had an opportunity to be dishonest. So, he suffers from pangs of conscience and the fear of being found out. While he deals with his dilemmas, in another part of town, the politician to whom this money belongs sets off a chain of events involving his sidekicks, a rival gangster and a dirty cop.
This is the sort of territory Kashyap, when at his best, and the Ram Gopal Varma Who Once Was have thrived on over the years. Immoral and amoral folk caught in a vortex of circumstances beyond the control of even the person who started it all, the domino effect of violence and corruption, and the pointlessness of it all - both gentlemen have operated in these areas with glee and to spectacular effect at various points in time.
Each major player in Lootcase is an eccentric in their own right. Nandan (Kunal Kemmu) who aspires to win "Employee of the Month" at work, his wife (Rasika Dugal) who can't be bothered with social niceties around her neighbours, their dirty talk pinned on Chinese food, their precocious child, the gangsta (Vijay Raaz) obsessed with National Geographic and borrowing life lessons from the wild, the neta (Gajraj Rao) who issues sugar-coated threats that he insists are not threats, the corrupt cop (Ranvir Shorey) who requests a cup of tea from the wives of men he is about to kill - each of these is brimming with potential.
The screenplay fails to build on these quirky elements though. Having cast a bunch of fine actors - including Kemmu who really deserves better than what Bollywood has given him so far, Dugal who has been so fantastic in films like Qissa and Manto, and Raaz whose filmography stretches from Monsoon Wedding to Delhi Belly and Dream Girl - and having got the narrative off to a good start, co-writers Kapil Sawant and Krishnan himself are unable to come up with much.
The humour in Lootcase soon becomes sparse, the occasional wisecrack/misunderstanding can be seen coming from a mile and the pace slackens. The narrative's lack of urgency is its undoing.
Not that Lootcase is terrible - not at all. It is half done, but it is also well begun. It is predicable, but it is also harmless. If you are in an undemanding mood, then it is not a bad film to spend your time on.
Rating: 1.75 stars
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