This stylised snoozefest starring Saif Ali Khan could have been so much more
Lifting off from classic Hollywood films to tell stories in Indian narratives is acceptable. But why would you launch an inspired debacle. ‘Baazaar’ is exactly like the market curve, which rises steadily but the curse of the second half witnesses its crash towards the lowest depth.
Rizwan Ahmed (newcomer Rohan Mehra) is a rookie stock broker based in Allahabad, whose aspirations surpass his city limits. Against his conservative Abbu’s wishes, Rizwan comes to Mumbai, as he would put it, to settle and not struggle. He idolises Shakun Kothari (Saif Ali Khan), a wily Gujarati businessman, for whom money is above all. Despite being loved and loathed in equal measure, Shakun always has his way through everything, even if it means risking his family and friends. Rizwan lands up in Mumbai’s volatile stock-trading market and chances upon fellow competitive broker Priya Rai (a glamorous Radhika Apte for a change). Exchanging trade secrets in between the sheets with Priya, Rizwan comes face-to-face with his idol. Meanwhile, the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) are wanting to tighten the noose around Shakun’s neck for unlawful trading, but are yet to recover substantial evidence. Will Rizwan save the day or is he being played?
Drawing pages from the 1987 film ‘Wall Street’ starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen, Parveez Shaikh and Aseem Chhabra stage a screenplay that sets the mood for an engaging first half. Though the business jargon used is beyond the understanding for an average viewer, the introduction scenes and a few clap-trap dialogues keep you invested. Post intermission, the film nosedives into sheer laziness. The plot twists are extremely predictable that you can smell the rat from a mile. The weakest link is the climax. A special mention though for John Stewart Eduri whose background score compliments the narrative beautifully. Swapnil S Sonawane’s cinematography and Shruti Gupte’s production design explore the elegance and glitz of South Mumbai boardrooms and streets. Maahir Zaveri and Arjun Srivastava’s editing in the first half is competent but they mess up the latter portions. The music is forgettable and frankly not needed.
Coming to the performances, the film rests on the shoulders of Saif, and it’s truly a feast to see the actor walk away with the best lines and scenes. His character is the only outstanding role that gets some layering. Though his Gujarati diction is jarring and inconsistent, it’s refreshing to see the actor play his age. But it’s high time he gets a film that works on all counts, be it story, director, co-stars, banners, etc. Radhika is impressive too as the calculative and scheming co-worker. But her redemption scene in the climax is laughable. Poor Chitrangada is wasted as the trophy wife Mandira. Although she does get her moment during an important scene, it’s already an opportunity missed. Rohan, though is yet another star-kid who believes in applying swagger to compensate for his lack of acting abilities. Sure, he is sincere but some of his dialogue delivery towards the climax of the film feels like he is teleprompting. Manish Chaudhuri is once again saddled with a small role like he was with ‘Satyameva Jayate’, earlier this year.
Hindi films have seldom dealt with business and money matters, ‘Baazaar’ was an opportunity meant to be seized, However, director Gauravv K Chawla’s amateurish handling makes for a messy affair.
PS: How long do we have to wait to see Saif in ‘Sacred Games Season 2’? A million-dollar question that is.