Of greed & ambition

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 27 Oct 2018 10:01:56




By Aasawari Shenolikar,

For the first time, Bollywood takes us into a realm, untapped till now - the world of stocks and shares, the Dalal Street that has the power of making or breaking companies and vicariously, the economy.  Debutant director Gauravv Chawla, with the help of his characters, in Baazaar delves into this murky world where many a wolf roams around in sheep’s clothing, looking out for his next prey.

Shakun Kothari (Saif Ali Khan) is the bull of stock market, the one on whom apparently the sun never sets. On a roll, this ruthless guy doesn’t blink an eye even if he has to destroy close friends whom he considers a threat to his profit. Featured on the cover of every magazine, Shakun, who starts off an angadiya when he is ten years old, has but one thing on time - making money. And he doesn’t care it if it’s by hook or crook for he strongly believes that ‘paisa bhagwan toh nahin, par bhagwan se kam bhi nahin.’

Many a rookie who wants to rule the wall street look upto him as a role model. The suave businessman chooses as his protégé, Rizwan Ahmed (Rohan Mehra), a small town broker from Allahabad, who has come to Mumbai - to make a name in the world of trading. The ecstatic Rizwan, who within a couple of months, shifts from a room in a chawl to a sprawling apartment fails to see that he is being taken for a ride. The tussle between mentor - protégé intensifies. Who wins in the end? For that you will have to go to the theatres to watch Baazaar.

At one point of time, Shakun, married to Mandira (Chitrangada Singh) puts forth a question to his daughters - whom do they like Superman or Batman? Like most children, the girls opt for Superman. Batman slogs about in the dark, and anything to do with darkness implies something that is evil or corrupt. But we all know that Batman, under the cover of darkness spreads goodness. It is on these perceptions that Baazaar rides.

For most part, the narrative flows without any hiccups. Gauravv Chawla has been able to weave in intrigue in this drama touted as a thriller. Unfortunately, the thrilling element goes missing as the plot unfolds. While the first half is replete with deception and trickery even as the characters are being introduced, the second part becomes boringly predictable and the story trudges on at a slow pace. The little bit of frenzy that we get to see in the first half (of course it is nothing compared to what one gets to see in the Wolf of Wall Street), is completely missing in the second half. Also the role played by SEBI is nothing short of laughable. Capable officers who have been studying Shakun for months are not able to figure out his modus operandi. And the kal ka chokra (who by the way doesn’t come across as too bright in his chosen field) is able to decipher, in a jiffy, how transactions between Shakun and the many parties occur. Greed, ambition and power play is woven beautifully in the narrative. And very subtly the director reveals that when greed and ambition come into play, the inner conscience also wakes up, forcing one to take remedial steps.

The story between the mentor and his protege based on power games is highlighted by the superb performances. Rohan Mehra’s debut performance that rides high on anxiety and fear, doubts and apprehensions of a small town guy who wants to make it big in the shark eat shark world of stock market gave him ample scope to showcase his acting abilities, for it is a strongly etched character. However, he lacks screen presence. The passion is sorely missing - be it when he strikes his first big deal or when he romances his girl or when he confronts his father. The talented dusky beauty Radhika Apte as Rohan’s colleague and girlfriend cakewalks through the role. Chitrangadha Singh’s role is too miniscule to leave any impact. And Manish Chaudhari as SEBI guy has been underutilised.

It is Saif Ali Khan who shines in this drama. He is one actor who imbibes the minute nuances of the characters he plays on screen - be it Langda Tyagi in Omkara (where the audience saw the immense potential in him for the first time) or the uber stylish Ronnie Singh in Race or the suave, sharp shark in Baazaar, Saif Ali is picture perfect. Not once does he lose his grip on his role - whether he is tackling his adversaries or romancing his wife or planning one more coup to shake the stock market. A spectacular performance by the Nawab.

The positives are many - it’s a well crafted, well performed film with believable characters. The drawback is, it drags in the second half, there are too many songs and it deals more with insider trading than how the stock market functions. The director doesn’t shed any light on how the murkiness happens in the financial world.

Another drawback is only those who understand the nitty gritties of the market, the turbulence that rising and falling stocks cause will be able to enjoy the film to the hilt because they are in a position to understand the technicalities of it. Even though the plot is not too complex, yet one has to have a basic understanding of the share market to follow the subject.

When someone cautions Saif Ali Khan saying that he might stumble as he is running too fast in his business, he smirks and states, “Whom do you remember - world’s fastest Marathon runner or the world’s fastest sprinter?”
And we all know the answer to that - Usain Bolt’s name is on the tip of everyone's tongue. In the annals of Bollywood, Saif Ail Khan will surely be remembered for his sprint in Baazaar.

The Hitavada Rating:  O O1/2