Monday, August 31, 2009


A film throbbing with Mumbai life, Bombay underbelly, and taking potshots at various social and political stunts that pull wool over people's eyes, Kaminey's biggest strength is its pulsating theme music that rivets the viewer to a weak storyline hovering around two twin brothers getting in and out of each other's shoes, each other's truths. One imagines the world in pristine colors but is too diffident to change it; the other is brash but knows that all in this world are kaminey; nothing rises above money. And yet both win their own battles and bury the ghosts of past, as the numerous fringe characters that dot a metropolis, especially Bombay, are brought to life superbly by a cast brilliantly picked by Vishal Bhardwaj. Not a very experienced cast outside of the lead trio of two Shahid Kapoors (playing Charlie and Guddu, the brothers) and Priyanka Chopra, in what is easily the best performance for me of both of them ever.

I don't think how without the music the film would have fared, since in the end it is just more and more an increasing number of disparate parties behind a cocaine package, interspersed with the sentimental stuff about twin brothers who don't see eye to eye now. What at least the film does is pack a punch, and powerfully enough, at those politicians who play the caste and religion cards, and expose them ruthlessly. It doesn't even spare those so-called nation's consciousness wakers with a penchant for changing city names to anything they think "looks" rustic or not of a British age. It also shows starkly how the world outside of dreamed ideals exists: a world where nothing counts but money, and more money, where the only thing that overrules it in the final loss of the dice is survival. Survival so that you can get one more chance of turning the tables and wresting back the initiative; and play the dangerous game again. Since who's going to win without taking the shortcuts?

The film only hints at the massive diamonds/drugs/arms nexus which funds wars in African countries like Angola and Sierra Leone; and it would have been better if the film had tried to be a complete thriller in itself, focussing on this shady international trade that finances terrorists and guerillas the world over, rather than setting up a story over why and how the two brothers parted ways somewhere in the past. The viewer needs better understanding of what's happening, not something very explicable (two brothers on different ways). The way it tries to compensate is by use of multiple languages: dominantly in Hindi, the film also uses quite a lot of Marathi and Bengali, along with smatters of English and Portuguese, to give it the mosaicy feel it required.

The actors are impressive, the technical aspects are slick, and of course the music, from the ever-present Go Charlie Go theme to the soft title song sung by Vishal himself, is simply great. Composed by Vishal and written by Gulzar, the songs had to be anyway great. But though another feather in his cap, this was not the best effort by Vishal, and even though he has done almost everything right.