I simply love slick action thrillers. Unfortunately they rarely come out in the Hindi film industry and even when they do they usually lack the punch or even the storyline to click. Testimonies to my argument would be the over-hyped Luck (2009), the over-hyped Cash (2007), and the more recent Blue (2009). Out of all the three examples, Blue turned out to be the only decent film of the lot, but the common factor between the three is that all of them sank without a trace at the box-office. As I write this, I also remember Acid Factory (2009) (coincidentally reviewed by myself), an ‘unknown’ movie (pun intended) which really packed a punch.
But that’s another story for another time. For now, let’s focus on the movie in question – Prince. A movie that’s been in the news since the release of its very first theatrical trailer alongside the release of Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (2009), for reasons good as well as bad. While a certain section of people were gearing up to experience an adrenaline pumping action thriller, another sect was captivated by a faint sample of Atif Aslam’s killer alaaps in the trailer. And there was a third sect of people who were against the movie; some of them because of actor Vivek Oberoi, and others because of the thematic element, which many people thought was ripped off from a number of movies, most rumored ones to be the Bourne franchise, the Crank franchise, the Matrix franchise, and some more – even Ghajini was pulled into this dubious list.
So does this movie succeed in fulfilling the immense expectations and hype? Does the movie manage to silence its detractors? Does Vivek Oberoi make use of this golden opportunity of his portrayal as a solo-hero to redeem himself? Does Shiraz Ahmed succeed in writing an engaging story and screenplay? Does debutant director Kookie Gulati succeed in grippingly executing the screenplay? Does Kumar Taurani’s sizable investment (Rs. 40 Crores) get into good use? Read on to find out….
One humungous heist later, a thief (Vivek Oberoi) wakes up remembering absolutely nothing about his past. Gradually he comes to know that his name is Prince, he works for Sarang (Isiah), and his love interest is Maya. While he sets out to piece this puzzle, he discovers he is hot property – the iGrip, the CBI, and the entire world’s government agencies are all after him because he possesses a single antique gold coin, an object he has no idea of. In the whole camaraderie he meets three mysterious women (Niroo Singh, Nandana Sen and Aruna Shields), all of them claiming to be Maya, thus further heightening the sense of distrust.
Through all this, he discovers that there is no one to trust but himself and his skills as his savior. All he knows is that he has 6 days to live, and time is running out quickly… will he survive?
Before stating the positive aspects of the movie, I would like to suggest to everybody to drop any pre-conceived comparisons of the movie with any other, as though the movie has a completely international feel, it has a completely original soul.
Leaving that aside, I’m extremely happy to say that just like Tips’ last super-hit action thriller Race (2008), Prince also has a lot to offer , thus making this an intelligent, well-packaged movie. Let me start off with the story and screenplay. Shiraz Ahmed (who has also written for Race) has yet again nailed it by writing a gripping story and converting it into an equally gripping and well-layered screenplay. Debutant director Kookie V Gulati has been handed the reins of executing the screenplay, and his execution is flawless, thereby making the movie the edge-of the-seat thriller that it is now. Dialogues by Mayur Puri are those smart, cheeky one-liners that make you grin every now and then. Prince’s motif dialogue (“It’s showtime!”) doesn’t sound corny at all. In fact, Vivek mouthing it makes it look real cool! Resul Pookutty’s sound design is cutting-edge.
Background score by Sandeep Shirodkar is excellent and fits each situation like a glove, giving each and every scene that extra edge. Camerawork is very smooth, and neither jerky nor shaky, which makes any post-production effects easier to handle. Visual Effects by Tata Elxsi will blow your mind! Editing by Nicolas Trembasiewicz (The Transporter) is crisp. What I appreciate about the movie is that it was really well visualized on paper – the storyboard (and animatics at a later stage) might have been visually accurate enough for the scene to turn into life. Action choreographer Allan Amin changes the face of action in Bollywood by including some really high voltage choreographed stunts, which wows the viewers! He did Dus (2005). He upped it all in Dhoom:2 (2006). And now he’s gone all out for Prince. Extra kudos to him.
The music by Sachin Gupta is audibly arresting, and Kookie Gulati’s direction makes the videos visually gripping too! The best ones out of the lot are "O Mere Khuda" and "Tere Liye", both are eye-candy and with the help of sensational music, you would seriously want to watch the videos again and again. While the former (song) relies heavily on visual effects (simply breathtaking for a music video), the latter relies heavily on editing and extra sound design and color-correction. Both the music videos though have one thing in common – style and glamour – and these are the two aspects that captivate the viewers. "Jiyara Jiyara" is also appealingly shot, thus making the ‘item number’ a cut above the rest of them.
Cinematography is rich and captures the beauty of the places really well. The locales chosen (Durban, Mumbai) are given justice by the cinematographer and the cameraman. Some wide lens shots are simply stunning.
What about the performances? Vivek Oberoi has proved to viewers and critics alike that he is a performer. And now, post his well-lauded role in Kurbaan, he gets to reaffirm the fact to us yet again. Prince has literally put Vivek Oberoi on a completely new level. Never at once does he look uncomfortable doing any scene; he looks completely at ease throughout this. Whether it’s the stunts, the intimate scenes or the cool attitude, he doesn’t play the character here; he literally ‘is’ the character. Isiah makes an unusual debut in the Hindi film industry; he plays the suave, sophisticated and cold-blooded white-collared criminal Sarang; and plays it with elan! The detail that goes into the making of Prince and Sarang captivates one and all, and the credit goes to Shiraz Ahmed for visualizing it and penning it, and to Kookie Gulati for bringing it alive.
As far as the three leading ladies are concerned, Niroo Singh shows a lot of promise. She is at ease emoting and looking stunning at the same time. And considering she’s had that squeaky clean image in the Punjabi flicks she’s acted in, the transformation has been tremendously surprising, yet she dons it and never once shows she’s uncomfortable on-screen. Her demeanor suits the character really well. Ditto for Nandana Sen, who sinks her teeth into her role with glee. She needs good roles. Once she gets them, she’ll be well-recognized. The third leading lady, Aruna Sheilds, is a performer, the British-Indian lass can not just act, she can look extremely hot and kick-ass when required! She knows her stuff. She can don a bikini, and can look naïve at the same time. She can emote and she can perform her choreographed action stunts at the same time. She’s a talent to watch out for.
It is good to see Dalip Tahil as Colonel Khanna (seen after quite a long time), back in action in a somewhat meaty role. Sanjay Kapoor in the supporting role of Inspector Khan is bang on! He eerily reminds us of Anil Kapoor’s characterization in Race though in all honesty the eeriness doesn’t affect his role. Mohit Chauhan (not to be mistaken with singer Mohit Chauhan of Silk Route fame) as Dalip Tahil’s sidekick is decent and does his part well. Others are equally good. The guy playing the character of Mike is efficient too.
As for flaws- well the movie doesn’t really have any as such, being an all-out commercial entertainer, but technically, in the first few minutes of her character’s introduction, Aruna Shields’ dubbing artist might not have seemed comfortable syncing to her lip movements in the ADR (automatic dialogue replacement) stages. She slips into it like a glove around two minutes later though!
Overall, style meets substance here in this high-voltage, unapologetically commercial, and racy action-packed thriller that has all the elements to captivate the audience including the storyline which moves at a feverish pace with surprising twists and turns. Director Kookie Gulati along with story and screenwriter Shiraz Ahmed (with the help of the team of producers Kumar S. Taurani and Renu Taurani) have created a mind-blowing and intelligently packaged movie that has the global appeal of a slick action-thriller flick, and yet entices the Bollywood audience with its paisa-vasool experience. As a final word, I have nothing else to write but Vivek’s dialogues which have been imprinted in my mind – “It’s showtime!” And it truly is! Go for it!