By Subhash K Jha
Stars: Naseeruddin Shah, Sachiin Joshi and Sunny Leone
Writer-Director Kaizad Gustad
MUMBAI: So here’s the bottom line. Sunny Leone hardly ever strips in Jackpot. The film is not about skin show. It’s more about scratching smooth surfaces to get to the evil avaricious core of the human heart. Everyone is greedy in Kaizad Gustad’s film, some more than the others. And every character is an imposter.
If you like films where a briefcase stashed with currency notes is tossed around with the cast in frenetic pursuit (think Guy Ritchie), then this is the film you would probably want to check out.
Noire cinema gets a twist in the tale. Ten years after his controversial and colourful Boom, Gustad takes us on a Goan caper.
Shot with dexterity by Artur Zurawski in rain-drenched boats and the dockside desolation of Goa, Jackpot is the kind of wild gambit of one-upmanship where heroes and wimps exchange places so swiftly and suddenly you don’t know who is doing what. And to whom.
There are three main characters – let’s just call them the Boss (Naseeruddin Shah), his moll (Sunny Leone) and the Boss’ right hand man Francis (Sachiin Joshi).
The tightly packed episodes of the spiralling plot leave very little room for porous moments. There is no breathing space in the narration. Gustad piles up ‘atmosphere’ so aggressively, you fear the narration may collapse.
At 90 minutes, Jackpot clocks quite a curious yarn, more notable for what it attempts than what it actually achieves. The narration dares damnation with episodes from the lives of the three main characters going back and forth as if time never really mattered to people who are on the road to monetary salvation.
It’s all very confounding.
Gustad, who last made the badly received Boom, does a ritzy take on the noire genre. Admittedly he lends an erotic edge to the game of one-upmanship with the Goan monsoon lending a sizzle and a drizzle that remain sadly unmatched by Leone’s voluptuous presence.
Sachiin, toned up physically and underplaying his charlatan’s part, and Leone can’t seem to keep their hands off one another.
Naseeruddin in an interesting blonde Bob Marley hairstyle brings a wicked gleam into every frame. And yes, he is in almost every frame probably trying to make sense of the plot the way he did while shooting for M.F. Hussain’s Gaja Gamini. There are as many coils, twists and tangles in the film’s plot as there are in Naseer’s wig, though the plot is not half as riveting as Naseer’s hair.
Sadly the stylish packaging and striking cinematography remain unsupported by the plot and characters. Neither are interesting or dangerous enough to be endearing in their immorality. Sorry, it just doesn’t add up.