(Published in The Sunday Guardian, on December 2, 2012, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/qayamat-se-qabrastan)
Cast: Aamir Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Kareena Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee
Director: Reema Kagti
Rating: 2 stars
I’m wary of films that begin with a slow montage of Mumbai’s pimps, prostitutes, junkies, watchmen, cops, and criminals. You know all this will be interrupted by something sensational – club blowing up, woman shot dead, car running off bridge, man run over, train accident, something along those lines. And it has to happen along the Worli Seaface or Marine Drive. And, of course, the camera will fast forward so we can gawk at pretty lights and ultrafast cars as the dusk morphs into dawn.
There are other unwritten rules the film adheres to. Like, when one of the Khans is in uniform, you supply him with an eager beaver chamcha whose chief concern is the boss’ mental health. Here, Rajkumar Yadav, who was last seen as the firebrand Shamshad in Gangs of Wasseypur 2, is Devrath, disciple of Inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat (Aamir Khan). His duties include answering rhetorical questions and threatening suspects on his boss’ behalf.
And, when Aamir Khan plays the lead, he must be supplied with a sad back story that will allow him to well up and act tough in turns. He doesn’t sleep, period. That makes a lot of sense in retrospect, but the end is the most innovative part of the plot, so I won’t ruin it. All I’ll say is that you won’t see the twist coming, and the reason you won’t is that it’s so completely ridiculous it renders the entire film ineffective. When one thinks back to some of the dialogues in the first half, one gets the feeling the filmmakers changed their minds about the climax midway through the shooting, and forgot to tie up the loose ends.
The first half hour raises hope that this could turn out to be a good whodunit, but sadly, the film falls back on oft-trodden tracks, working the kitschiest crime staples into the story. That isn’t to say we lose interest. It’s precisely because we’re hooked to what’s happening on screen that the film turns out to be so disappointing in the end.
The acting is far better than a film like this deserves. I’ve never seen Kareena Kapoor perform well before, though her task is admittedly made easier here because the movie requires her to sport her item number face almost all through. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the langdagofer is brilliant, while Rani Mukherjee plays her character quite perfectly. Aamir Khan reprises his Satyamev Jayate role, switching between fury at the system and sympathy for his fellow.
The Verdict: The story is about as flat as assembly line products from the Bhatt factory, but you won’t figure that out till the second half.