These days we are seeing debuts made every Friday. But not every Friday witnesses this kind of confident debut in a movie that is genuinely ‘hatke’ and yet one of those ‘in your face’ type of cinema. In a movie so out of norm, comes an equally stunning debut of an actor from the small box, Rajeev Khandelwal, who was never one to follow norms, to start with.
This is without a doubt, one of the most daring attempts of filmmaking seen in recent times and what makes it all the more special is the team that brings you this thriller. It is not just Rajeev who is stepping into the big league here. The director, the cinematographer, the sound dudes, the music, all are from fresh names- this is what makes this film feel a lot more special.
AAMIR meaning ‘leader’ tells the story of an ordinary man by the name of “Aamir” thrown into an unordinary situation. A successful doctor returning from London, his problem starts from the moment he lands in Mumbai. The first scene itself shows how his name is enough to get him into trouble with the custom officials. Thus the message is laid down right from the word go on what it must be like to live as a muslim in the modern world.
People in uniforms are the least of his problems. It is just that he does not realize it at this juncture. Nor does he realize it when he finds that outside the airport, no family of his awaits. The truth is only thrust upon him when strange faces throw him a cell phone, while his luggage goes missing.
Now unlike his name, Aamir plays the follower, following instructions from the voice of a religious fanatic at the other end. And soon we learn how Aamir’s family has been kept captive and shall be released only when Aamir successfully completes his task.
Thus Aamir’s task takes him to a Mumbai much deeper than what one knows of. We are taken down the dark alleys, the dingy crowded market places, the old shacks….and at this point of time, we as a viewer, also ponders the same thing as Aamir – why him?
A few more lanes further down the street, Aamir finds more turns that he expects. And now he is not sure who exactly controls his destiny.
The strength of the movie lies equally on the culmination as much as the screenplay that unfolds prior to it. Even some of the supporting actors leave a mark without even mouthing a single line. That is how strong the performances all come together.
On the flip side, deep into the movie there were moments where the tension began to slack a bit. Also don’t start me on the red box that cries out for attention and was it necessary for Aamir to be dressed up in the suit when he knows he has just enrolled for the Mumbai marathon. Even the villain character, kept literally in dark, failed to make an impact. But then again those are not points that justify one to deny giving this movie a dekkho. Opinions may vary in the final count, but this movie remains one of the must watch of this season.
Rajeev Khandelwal is impressive in this debut feature. For a movie that focuses on no other actors but him, it is a big task which Rajeev accomplishes to a great extent. Agreed there are emotive moments where he seemed wanting and there are moments when you feel that this man isn’t as tense as he needs to be. But those are small blemishes in an otherwise solid performance. With hidden cameras, most of the time he was just out there following instructions from that cell phone. Thus with most of it being more spontaneous that what we would guess, it was only deserving that he got credited as the First Assistant Director.
Music is also a very integral part as well. It kicks off with the Peggy Lee song “It’s a Good Day” in a rather cheerful fashion. Relish it, for that is the only cheerful factor in the dark thriller that follows. The rest of the soundtrack varies from a haunting theme track to Mehfuz. Some of the songs might pop up at the oddest of moments, but I for some reason, enjoyed it.
Even technically for cinematography that was more of hidden cameras, it had a class effect without trying any of the fancy editing tricks.
Overall, it is indeed a brave attempt. So it might still be another version of the highly acclaimed Filipino thriller Cavate, but again, that is better than a scene to scene rip off from the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Because eventually it is attempts like this that would help Indian cinema and Indian filmmakers to venture out there into frontiers unknown. Or else they would just resort to the ‘been there-done that’ variety that they have grown comfortable with.
So thanks to the production team of Ronnie (UTV) and Anurag Kashyap/Deven Khote for backing this project.