By Subhash K Jha
Stars: Sanjay Dutt, Prakash Raj, Prachi Desai
Director: K Ravi Kumar
Look. Indian cinema is like a massive bouquet of wildflowers of different colours and smells. You really can’t judge Policegiri, Sanjay Dutt’s hefty homage to hero-giri completed before his 3-year prison terms, against the soft gently-undulating movements of the week’s other release Lootera.
If Vikramaditya Motwane’s film is soft-petalled rose, Policegiri is a wild cactus flower from the desert.
Why cactus? The landscape is populated with pricks, you see.
It’s roaring 12-gun salute to the traditional mainstream cinema’s ongoing obsession with the corruption-cleansing cop who goes on a rampage. The anti-establishment figure from Prakash Mehra’s Zanjeer has been slyly transformed into the Khaki-coloured law-enforcer with shades of grey .
Like Ajay Devgn in Singham, Akshay Kumar in Rowdy Rathore and Salman Khan in Dabangg, Dutt in Policegiri is a morally ambivalent do-gooder who bends rules to restore order in an inherently anarchic lawless town, somewhere at the Andhra border (hence the thick accents of junior artistes who seem to have seen better ‘daze’) run by a power goon-politician
That the buffoon of a goon is played repeatedly by Prakash Raj is a boon. This talented actor from Priyadrshan’s unforgettable Kancheeviram plays the same rowdy idiosyncratic neta in almost every Hindi remake of a South Indian cop-on-a-cocky-trail remake.And he re-vitalizes the character each time!
Here in Policegiri Prakash Raj is a howl as a music-loving ganglord. In various self consciously staged confrontation scenes with Dutt, Paraksh Raj is seen playing different musical instruments, from the piano to the tabla,quite badly we may add.
“I don’t claim to be Mohd Rafi in singing. But I am Mohammed Ali in my brute power,” brags Prakash Raj’s villainous character Nagori Subramnayam in scene after scene.
Well, good for him. Be warned. The heroic adversary is formidable. Like Salman in Dabangg, Dutt’s cop’s character is quirkily immoral.We are not supposed to judge this bovine cop adverserly just because he collects money wrapped in a newspaper from the gana-wala goon.
Flitting in and out of this tale of the goon-like coop and the gana-gata-goon is a romantic association between Dutt and Prachi Desai. Age difference be damned, they even have a discreetly-done suhaag-raat scene where Prachi is allowed to make fun of Mr Dutt’s dhalti-umar (advancing age).
Ask Dutt if he cares. He seems to sink into the fun quotient of the barbed jugalbandi with Prakash Raj without bothering with histrionic one-upmanship.
The fun part of Policegiri is that no one, not even director K Ravi Kumar, seems to take the proceedings seriously. Even when gruesome killings happen they are done in the spirit of a comic-book caper where the hero has forgotten his cape home and he certainly doesn’t wear his underwear on top of his khaki pants. Sanjay Dutt seems to revel in the absurdity of a crime drama where the law-maker seems to share an affinity to moral ambiguity with the law-breakers.
It is all fun to watch – loud, rumbustious, over-the-top, ear-splitting fun – provided you are a Singham-Dabangg aficionado, and a Sanjay Dutt fan.
And provided you don’t judge this film by the same yardsticks as Lootera.