Film Review: Game

Directed by: Abhinay Deo

Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Kangana Ranaut, Anupam Kher, Boman Irani, Shahana Goswami, Jimmy Shergill, Gauhar Khan and introducing Sarah Jane Dias

WARNING: Contains spoilers, so if you don’t want to know what happens, please revisit my review after watching the film

All pictures courtesy of:

I must be one of the worst people to watch a thriller film with – not only do I have a knack for figuring things out before they happen but despite exercising restraint, I can’t help but share my observations with those watching and end up spoiling the film (for them at least – for me, its vindication!) However, Hindi films as always manage to halt my prowess in its tracks with some crazy twist and turns that no one could see coming. For instance, Race in 2008 was one film which had so many twists and turns that I had long given up trying to work out what was going on and instead, chose to focus on Bipasha and Katrina looking sensuous.

Hence, I wasn’t too excited about Game when it came round to releasing. Having seen the trailer (which I have to admit was better than most), Game seemed an open and shut case of a film, where it would have more style than substance and a lot of promise that simply wasn’t realised in the film. I seemed to have missed the hype surrounding the film totally (was there any?) and it only remained on my radar due to its April Fools release date plus the fact that I had time to kill before meeting a friend for a late lunch, so armed with my self important judgmental ideas, it was off to the first day, first show in a blissfully peaceful cinema with barely ten people and one of the larger screens in the multiplex which was a good omen – even if the film was awful, at least it would get my full concentration and I could watch it in ideal viewing conditions.

Game is about four different people – a nightclub owner, a politician, an actor and journalist, all from different parts of the world, who are brought together by a billionaire who is looking to solve the mystery surrounding his daughter’s death. With all four sharing a link to the dead girl, a game of sorts ensues as everyone is suddenly forced to confront their demons and play along or risk their lives being turned upside down….

Game is a slickly packaged film that manages to execute its premise rather well. For me, there were three points the film scored well on; the female characters, the desire to keep the story plausible and the effort to be a straightforward thriller. I liked the female characters in that they were not damsels in distress but characters (with a hint of stock type) but essentially having more to do than just pout and romance. I especially liked that Neil and Agnihotri don’t have a romantic storyline and are simply professional partners instead which really adds gravitas to Game’s integrity. Some of the twists are a bit silly but the script does try to justify them and at the end of the day, as the film does not have delusions of grandeur, they are acceptable and even enjoyable to watch. Game does feel familiar and share a resemblance to films like the Bourne trilogy (note the action sequences)  and even Chicago and Moulin Rouge (Mehki Mehki song) but this is more of a compliment than anything, as the presentation and feel of the film is very polished and well thought out, so that you don’t feel that Game is directly copying its source material but is genuinely inspired and trying to give its own interpretation (which it does manage).

Technically, Game is superb, with some wonderful cinematography, neat editing and a rather fitting background score that really adds to the film rather than irritates. I really did like the action sequences that had the odd discrepancy (Agnihotri is shot and survives, yet Kabir is shot once and dies) but there is a wonderful sequence shot in Istanbul where Neil is chased by secret services that really captures the viewer’s attention and neatly encapsulates the film’s theme of the characters playing a game. I also liked the way the Mehki Mehki song was picturised though I wasn’t too keen on the Kaun Hai Ajnabi video at the end. Styling wise, Game really ups its er, game with each character having a clearly defined look which is totally attuned to their character development. I thought Vikram Kapoor (Jimmy’s character) had fun with the loud designer logos and prints but it was the ladies who really stole the show – Kangana looks stunning in no make up make up, high waisted trouser suits with blouses or with a racer back vest, teamed with heels and attitude. Gauhar Khan does a sexy secretary a la Katrina in Race with see through chiffon blouses, pussy bow tops and mid length pencil skirts whilst Shahana is her total opposite in jersey tops, silk dresses and long cardigans. Sarah Jane rocks her corset in Mehki Mehki with aplomb and then has a simpler wardrobe throughout the rest of the film. As for the lads, Abhishek looks good in a military detail black coat and his brown weekend leather bag was nicely product placed too…

Performance wise, the ensemble cast do quite well and no one really lets the side down. I felt Abhishek’s character was close to Jai Dixit of the Dhoom films but Bachchan infuses the role with the right amount of wit, charm and edge to differentiate it and make it work for Game. Jimmy Shergill has little to do and phones it in but as he is a decent actor, even phoning it in for him is acceptable. Anupam Kher and Boman Irani are both very good, with the latter slightly overplaying it but this seems more down to direction than his performance which is high quality as always. Similarly, Anupam is excellent, adding class and making the most of the role, playing both positive and negative roles with relish. I really liked Gauhar Khan and Shahana Goswami who both had little to do but make sure they are noticed with quiet and understated performances that sit perfectly with the mood of the film. Sarah Jane Dias has very little to do except look pretty (which she does very well!) but I did want to see more from her which can only be a good thing for an introductory role. My favourite was Kangana Ranut who put herself outside her comfort zone and plays the spirited intelligence officer with guts and determination. Sometimes she does hit the odd wrong note but I liked the fact that she took a risk and really pushed herself – she shares a very good chemistry with Abhishek and matches him step for step, making for a pleasing combination.

All in all, I liked Game and inspite of my reservations, the film entertained and was very watchable – having sat through some awful films, this certainly didn’t fall in that category. At the same time, Game is not a genre defining film but it does not intend to be. For me it was like Race but without the massive dose of highly charged sexualised energy that Race had oozing out of every frame. But this is actually a good thing for Game and if anything, its strongest asset – the film is economical in its execution and doesn’t try to punch above its weight.

This is one film that was actually well represented by its trailer and as such, if you liked the trailer, you will like the film. For those like me who had reservations, the film does work hard to dispel these and though this might not be in the top ten films of the year, it is worth a watch in cinema if you get the chance (especially at time of release, coming out of a month with no major films to speak of) and definitely a good choice for a night in on DVD/television. It would seem Game has got game, though whether this will make it a commercial hit is a guessing game of its own…


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