Not an edge of the seat thriller

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 16 Sep 2017 11:26:29



By Aasawari Shenolikar

Bars can shackle the human body, but they cannot shackle one’s dreams. Aadmi qaid hote hain, sapne nahin. So even when an aspiring singer Kishan (Farhan Akhtar), whose only dream in life is to form a band, finds himself falsely implicated in the murder of an IAS officer, and put behind bars, he refuses to let his dream die. That he is aided in his mission by the CM's order is like icing on the cake. CM (played by Ravi Kishen) wants an inter jail band competition to be hosted by Lucknow Central Jail. No one can overrule the CM's orders - neither the IG who tries his ebst to explain that this is not feasible in a high security jail where the State's filth (read the dreaded criminals) are housed, nor the iron fisted warden Srivastava (Ronit Roy). The competition is on. The hitch - barring Kishan, no one else volunteers to be a part of the band. Not till Kishan explains the real reason, and that is he is hatching a plan to escape from the gaol.

Ranjit Tiwari's Lucknow Central, based on true events is strictly in parts a heartwarming tale of dreams and hope. The plot is woven around five characters - Deepak Dobriyal, Inaamulhaq, Rakesh Sharma and Gippy Grewal, along with Farhan Akhtar, who find themselves bonding in jail and who, while dealing with their own demons, dream of freedom that Kishan has promised them as part of the deal.
While the plot is unusual, the narrative lets it down. What could have been a pulsating, fast paced thriller is marred by the languid pace. Taut and tough - hallmarks of any prison break movie - are not a feature of Lucknow Central. If Tiwari had focused on setting up palpable tension, probably the film would have become a bit more engaging. The pace picks up a bit in the second half, but it still lacks the energy and is very low on the excitement quotient. There is simply no escalation of tension or the build up of any suspense to turn this into a nail biting thriller. It is riddled with loopholes, but then that is not the only thing that lets down Lucknow Central.

The escape plan that they hatch is tacky and how they go about it is also shoddily treated. The narrative doesn't draw in the audience and make him a part of the plot, eager to know how the escape plan will unfold. The straight forward treatment by the director makes the entire film predictable. Superficial is the word that comes to mind if one has to talk about the way the prison and the life of the prisoners is depicted. Gang wars and the need for supremacy among the inmates is a perpetual element in jails across the world. This is only remotely touched by the director.

The strong actors - all of them, thus have been let down by an almost insipid script. Farhan is earnest, we all know that Farhan is capable of wowing the audience. However, LC's Kishan doesn't do justice to the character from a small town. Ronit Roy aces his mean warden act, and that's because movie after movie he has been doing similar kind of roles. Rest of the cast - Dobriyal, Grewal, Inaamulhaq, and Sharma lend strong support and are definitely a delight to watch. Ravi Kishen brings on the smile. He provides a short relief from ennui completely setting in.

The movie talks about a Band and music and so should have had a strong musical component. Unfortunately, it is imperfect even in this department. You don't take any song back with you, just as you don't take back any moment that has wowed you.  The only good thing that the movie shows is that justice is dispensed quickly- a convict accused of murder is acquitted within a couple of years - we all so wish that it was true in real life too!

The Hitavada Rating: O O

PS I forgot to mention Diana Penty… but her character and she as a one expression actor is not really worth mentioning. Ronit Roy, while chewing pan advises her - 'Aap model jaise dikhti hai, modeling kariye' .. Truer words were never uttered.