Shootout at Lokhandwala. Director: Apoorva Lakhia. Players: Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Vivek Oberoi, Tusshar Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan. Music: Anand Raj Anand. Cinematic release (White Feather).
India’s fascination with super-criminals, arch-terrorists and other sordid real-life baddies more or less mirrors a current global phenomenon. The real-life supper-baddie Dawood Ibrahim had received special attention recently in Black Friday and now in Shootout at Lokhandwala. Spun out from a caption that reads “Based on True Rumors,” this charged shoot-’em-up, based on the highly charged 1991 confrontation between Mumbai police and a gang affiliated with Ibrahim, manages to more or less seamlessly blend fantasy and fact—while admittedly taking liberties with the truth—for a cerebral experience on the excesses of this modern scourge.
Narrated from the vantage point of an internal affairs investigator (Bachchan) checking facts behind an incident that left so many dead bodies on both sides, we learn that Maya Dolas (Oberoi) and his ruthless gang will go to great lengths to settle any trespasses. Dolas’ harassment becomes so widespread that one determined cop (Dutt) sets his eyes on capturing Dolas at all costs. With a period friendly scenario (stodgy cells which were new at the time, no internet for general use, rabbit-ear antennas for TVs) and decent performances (both from Dutt as the police mastermind and Oberoi as the colorful nemesis) help sustain our interest.
Anand’s electronica tunes float hip-hop beats replayed at the speed of a drum machine. The “dirty” version of the Mika and Anchal’s Ganpat Rap parody is amusing. Lakhia, whose earlier Bachchan thriller Ek Ajnabee proved weak, has better luck here. Warning: With a blood-soaked story (just how many ways can you kill an informant?) and an exceedingly high body count, even by Hollywood standards, Shootout is not for those with weak stomachs. Others may enjoy.
Globe trekker, aesthete, photographer, ski bum, film buff, and commentator Aniruddh Chawda writes from Milwaukee.