Shootout At Wadala

Directed by: Sanjay Gupta

Starring: John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Manoj Bajpai, Sonu Sood, Kangana Ranut

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It is one thing to be able to build up momentum in a film but another thing entirely to control and manipulate this force for the duration of the running time, which is the main problem faced by Shootout At Wadala (SOW). Inspite of some really good sequences and an interesting concept, the script of SOW runs about like a bull on steroids unable to focus or decide on what it wants to be. As a result, we get a mixed bag of a film that hits upon a number of good ideas by accident rather than design and is clearly capable of more than it actually achieves.

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The strongest parts of SOW are those gleaned from facts – Gupta seems to know how to exert the right amount of pressure at these points so that the first half is largely watchable and even absorbing in parts. Unfortunately, it is when SOW goes into new territory or tries to fill in the gaps that it falters – the love angle is clumsy (as is much of the dialogue) and the nexus between the police and the underworld is poorly explored. I was also disappointed by the lack of thought given to the female characters – the item numbers are leery and lazy whilst Kangana’s part seems like a token gesture.

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Performance wise, I have to give Abraham props for trying to get out of his comfort zone and do something different – though largely unsuccessful (and woefully miscast in my opinion as a man-child) Abraham does do well in some scenes,especially when it comes to group dynamics. Kangana is bored and wasted in a rather pointless role that was no doubt narrated differently to her. Similarly, the potent combination of Sood and Bajpai is ridiculously under utilised but to their credit, both actors elevate the role with a gravitas not given by the script. Surprisingly, it is Anil Kapoor in 80’s mode that steals the show – when he is not hamming or checking his appearance in the mirror, he is the only one who gives an even portrayal in the testosterone laden cast.

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I have to say, inspite of its flaws, SOW is watchable and for what it’s worth, I didn’t walk out hating it at the end. I would have preferred a much more pared down streamlined screenplay than the larger than life version that we are presented with but SOW could have been much worse and that it hits any notes of inspiration is an achievement but not enough to make it a must watch – if you miss it, you won’t really miss out.

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