Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

January 19, 2007

Not worth the risk

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 7:30 pm

January 19, 2007

Cast: Randeep Hooda, Vinod Khanna, Tanushree Dutta, Seema Biswas

Director: Vishram Sawant

Now the thing about director Vishram Sawant’s Risk is that you’ve seen it all before. It’s the story of an upright cop played by Randeep Hooda, who will go to any lengths — and I mean any lengths — to bring down the underworld, and in particular, one exiled don, Vinod Khanna.

Now between two of Ramgopal Varma’s genius underworld sagas Satya and Company and Sawant’s own previous film D, we’ve seen just about everything there is to see about the sometimes fragile relationship between the underworld and the police. As a result, Risk covers absolutely no new ground. What’s odd is, while watching the film you get the distinct feeling that the director isn’t even trying to involve you in the plot, because there’s hardly any plot to speak of. He kind of expects that you get the drift because you’ve seen all the earlier films of the same genre, and he attempts to woo you with his compelling style of storytelling instead.

In all fairness, Sawant uses both cinematography and editing assertively, giving you images and sequences that are original and memorable. Unfortunately however, even his strong command over the technical departments can’t make up for the misery you must endure in the name of plot.

No review of Risk can be complete without a mention of its violent scenes. Now I don’t usually have a problem with violence if it’s integral to the plot of the film, and to be fair, a film like this about an encounter specialist cop is bound to have its fair share of blood and gore. Despite being prepared for that, I still came away thinking Risk is just way too gruesome, and that a lot of the violence in this film is simply gratuitous. The shootout scenes in this film aren’t your typical Bollywood action scenes to which — quite frankly — nobody ever bats an eyelid because they’re so unreal and so obviously choreographed. But the violence in Risk is a lot more raw and realistic. And because it’s backed up by such superior sound design, you can hear every stab so clearly — you can pretty much feel the metal piercing flesh. Every single gunshot echoes in your ear. Now in a more sensible film, I wouldn’t raise any objection, but the problem with Risk is that it’s one of the most pointless films I’ve seen in a long, long time.

The feeling that you’re overcome with as you sit trapped in your seat watching Risk is one of immense anger. I say anger because this film insults your intelligence for having no plot at all. It tests your patience with scene after scene of violent killings. It moves at a breakneck pace, yet it fails to hold your interest, and what’s worse of all is the fact that it’s actually quite decently shot.

Yes I have to say that Vishram Sawant may be a poor storyteller, but he’s got talent when it comes to creating a look for his film. And that, I must confess I observed even while watching his last film D. The sad thing is that he’s obviously suffering from a Ramgopal Varma hangover, but somebody please tell him that we’ve had enough of these underworld dramas, specially if you have nothing new to tell us.

Like his mentor Ramgopal Varma, the director of Risk, Vishram Sawant also picks his actors carefully. He assembles an impressive line-up to play integral roles, but alas, without a script to fall back on, most of these characters just flit in and out of scenes unable to justify either their purpose or their presence on screen. Of the principal cast, Vinod Khanna is in good form, but surely he could have found a better film to make a comeback with. Risk, unfortunately, offers him very little scope to show what he’s really made of. Not surprisingly, it’sRandeep Hooda who makes a big impression in this film. He has a screen-presence that’s hard to ignore, and there’s an earnestness in his performance that comes shining through.

In the end, whatever little talent and skill that’s up on display in this film seems like such a waste after all, because Risk is an exercise in futility. So that’s a thumbs down for Vishram Sawant’s Risk. I could use the obvious pun here saying go watch this film at your own risk, but let me just say that the body count that stacks up on screen is matched only by the body count of bored and angry people who’ll no doubt pass out after a screening of Risk. It’s avoidable at all costs.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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