Phamous movie review: Kay Kay Menon, Pankaj Tripathi-starrer is disorderly, lacks technical finesse
It’s a wonder that actors of the caliber of Kay Kay Menon, Pankaj Tripathi and Jimmy Sheirgill opted to participate in this shoddy film like Phamous
castJimmy Sheirgill, Jackie Shroff, Kay Kay Menon, Pankaj Tripathi, Shriya Saran, Mahie Gill, Brijendra Kala
directorKaran Lalit Butani
In the dusty and lawless hinterland, guns fire without hesitation and a bullet is your ticket to fame. This is the premise for writer-director Karan Lalit Butani’s Phamous, set in the Chambal region of Madhya Pradesh.
The first three to four scenes of Phamous barrel through a number of plot lines: a gangster with a penchant for guns and power, a local politician with an overactive libido and Radhe Shyam, a school boy with a crush on his teacher Rosie (Mahie Gill). The story is narrated by a muffled voice — that of Jackie Shroff who all but disappears after the opening scene only to reappear towards the end.
We have now met Shambu (Jackie Shroff), Kadak Singh (Kay Kay Menon) and his guns, Ram Vijay Tripathi (Pankaj Tripathi, delightful), the local politician, and his brother Baban Tripathi (Jameel Khan). They continue with their misdemeanours without fear or worry.
Time passes. Radhe is all grown up and becomes Jimmy Sheirgill (in a quieter role than we have seen him in recently, yet equally reliable). None of the other characters age. The only difference in appearance is that Menon’s moustache has become an awkward handlebar.
Now a man, Radhe is married off to Lalli (Shriya Saran), a high cast beauty from a neighbouring village. In this region, women are commodities that are abducted, raped, discarded, disregarded, killed when they catch the fancy of goons with guns.
While most of the characters are cardboard cutouts, only Radhe emerges as atypical. As we see the seemingly timid child show unexpected nerve, we also see the man relying on his survival instincts and principals to navigate through local power-politics.
Education is the differentiator. It’s one quality the local thugs respect, but it's not a pass for automatic exemption from a spontaneous gunshot. Logic has been cast asunder by Butani and his film feels decidedly dated, not only in its very 80s construction but also technically. The director has chosen a number of out of focus shots, the editing is arbitrary, the village women are overdressed, and the characters’ motives are insubstantial. Some scenes do pop though, such as the interactions with a suave businessman in Armani suits amped up by Tripathi’s easy banter, and Radhe’s singular focus on obtaining a gun.
Given the absence of technical finesse and the disorderly script, it’s a wonder that actors of the caliber of Menon, Tripathi and Sheirgill opted to participate in this shoddy film.
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