If there is one director in the Indian film industry who can make an engrossing movie on almost any topic, it┬┤s Raj Kumar Santoshi; an out-and-out action movie (Ghayal), a slap-stick laugh riot (Andaz Apna Apna), a fight for women┬┤s justice Damini and Lajja), a patriotic thriller (Pukar), or a commercially viable historical documentary (The Legend of Bhagat Singh), Mr. Santoshi is truly a magician of the silver screen. This time he conjures a film, Khakee, that is his salute to the Indian police force. And to reciprocate, Khakee too, should be saluted. Indeed, the film is not without its flaws, but in retrospect, Khakee serves as a strong sign that Bollywood can still produce quality cinema.
Khakee is the story of Anant Srivastava (Amitabh Bachchan), a man who has accomplished precious little in his career as an officer, regardless of various promotions. He, and his chosen team are to go to Chandangarh and bring terrorist Dr. Iqbal Ansari (Atul Kulkarni) to a Mumbai court. Amongst his squad are Sr. Inspector Shekhar (Akshay Kumar), who is the police force┬┤s bad boy, and Sub-Inspector Ashwin Gupte (Tusshar Kapoor) a rookie fresh out of training on his first mission.
Khakee is evidently a cut above the rest of the movies in its genre, and what grants it this recognition is its story and screenplay. The ongoings are authentically presented, while maintaining all the necessary ingredients for entertainment; Khakee is not ridiculously predictable like most commercial ventures, but is not dark or miserable like a stereotypical art venture-- the perfect balance!
As a director, Raj Kumar Santoshi has paid incredible attention to detail and he comes out with miraculous results. The essence of every scene is well captured on screen and always hits the right chord. His use of light in the film is novel and well executed.
A common trait to all of Raj Kumar Santoshi┬┤s movies is his dialogue. He is absolutely meticulous in his choice of words and their presentation. Always of the highest quality, Raj Kumar Santoshi┬┤s dialogues inject the urge to get up an whistle at the screen for their superiority.
The action of Khakee is top notch, and is a superb asset to the film; it is neither fake or too gory. The cinematography is worthy of accolades as well, especially in the song "Dil Dooba".
Praises aside, Khakee is not perfect. After a shockingly tight first half, the pace of the film begins to stagger in the post-interval stages, mainly due to the addition of the songs, which seem to over-develop Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai┬┤s love story. Ram Sampat┬┤s excellent music is therefore wasted, for it serves absolutely no purpose in a film of this nature. Such a film ought to be songless for a stronger impact. Furthermore, Lara Dutta┬┤s special appearance is anything but special. Each aspect of the song--be it her costumes, make-up, choreography and placement in the film-- is ghastly. Lara Dutta ought to avoid such pathetic exhibitions of her minimal talent.
Of the cast, it is Amitabh Bachchan who truly delivers. He is given the author-backed role and runs with it, once again proving why he is the industry┬┤s greatest actor ever. He presents his character┬┤s confidence and inner weaknesses with the highest realism. In particular, His monologue in the police station is done with elan! The Big B has started 2004 with a Big Bang and this performance will probably be one of the best of the year, by far!
Despite being well-shadowed by Mr. Bachchan, the rest of the cast registers a vivid impact. Ajay Devgan is definitely enjoying the prime of his career with another outstanding performance. If you thought he was menacing in Deewangee, then his performance in Khakee will leave your jaw dropped! One of the best villainous roles Bollywood has seen in a long time!
Akshay Kumar exposes his flair for comedy and doesn┬┤t disappoint! His action sequences are, as always, perfect. He is in his best form in the pre-interval scene. Aishwarya Rai┬┤s absolutely makes her presence felt in a male-dominated flick, and almost shocks you. Her role is becoming slightly cliched in Bollywood, but she adds new dimensions to it. Tusshar Kapoor is improving, but cannot be branded a true actor yet. He is good in Khakee, especially in the final scene, but needs to work on his childish voice. Atul Kulkarni is his usual self, fulfilling the role┬┤s requirements to the T. Tanuja is great in her cameo. Jaya Prada is mechanical.
Khakee is not to be missed! Simply put, it is one of the best movies in recent times. Had it released as scheduled in 2003, it would have been a last-minute award stealer for sure! But don┬┤t expect anything different for the 2004 awards. Khakee will have its name on a quite a few nominations for sure! Don┬┤t commit a movie-crime by missing this one!