If you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance baffle them with your bullshit! To be fair to John Day it does try hard for the former but disappoints us by quite effortlessly achieving the latter.
Now this is a film which is highly injurious to your self esteem and concept of self worth. It wears so smugly the rug of intricately woven highly intellectual avant-garde thrill that one feels rather dumb for not being able to follow it. I spent the first half of the film reeling under such guilt. It was only after I sipped some piping hot coffee and munched on caramel flavored popcorns that it dawned on me – it just isn’t working out between us and the reason is not me but you Mr. John Day! With cardboard cutout characters and confusing screenplay the film is thrill less and rather boring.
John Day has been photoshopped for comfort. It boasts of an intriguing title, an even more intriguing start and Naseer in the lead, Of course this film wears the blue tie of a scholar rather well. But on close examination you realize it is a thoughtless mugging up of Spanish thriller Box 507.
Writer and director Ahishor Solomon has Naseeruddin Shah and Randeep Hooda capering around each other, one with a stony resolve for vengeance, the other with a wood log expression. (No prices for guessing who!). Naseeruddin plays the righteous eponymous hero avenging is daughter’s death. A larger sinister conspiracy slowly unravels with Police officer Gautam (Randeep Hooda) coming in with his share of expletives and gut wrenching violence. All this laden with some heavy Christian imagery of elaborate funerals, Bible verses, Fathers and Crosses along with a jarring background score. The cinematography and the initial build up all point to a Gothic style dark engaging thriller but falls short miserably. An honest bank manager John Day overnight turns into a gun wielding blood thirsty avenger never once flinching while pulling the trigger. While Naseer definitely puts up a brilliant show everyone and everything else around him seem to be falling apart. Police cop Gautam has an alcoholic girlfriend (Elena Kazan) and the only reason for togetherness seems to be their propinquity to everything dark and painful.
An old honest bank manager outsmarting seasoned criminals, a gum chewing cop with a melancholic air, a large hearted baddie - we wish these characters had been chiseled better than the cut outs they end up being. Its only when we are well into the second half that we get a hang of it all but by then the thrill has evaporated and the climax seems like some fizz less cold drink. Some of the dialogues are nice. There is a scene when Randeep tells his subordinate “jaldi ker. Yaad rakh tu tankhwa per nahi ghoos per kaam ker raha hai” which happens to be my favorite. Randeep Hooda and the bad ass demeanor that he wears works for him in this movie but he has to show some variation not only in his choice of roles but also dialogue delivery. Flat pitched grainy voice won’t cut ice every time. Thankfully there aren’t any songs to add to our already baffling experience however some of the scenes and dialogues are so explicit and violent that his A rated film might make some adults cringe too! I was left particularly perturbed by the canine teeth that almost all characters seemed to adorn. Ghastly!
While John Day makes a brave attempt at trying to break free from hackneyed Bollywood concepts and treatments that stubbornly refuse to grow up into something more dynamic it still is a half hearted effort. Go for it if you must but with very low expectations.