Banner: Senn Productions
Producer: Prakash Bhagat
Director: Rakesh Ranjan Kumar
Cast: Lorena Franco, Brijesh Jayarajan, Salman Khan, Karan Soni, Gautam Kurup, Poonam Mathur, Neet Chowdhary
Writer: Rakesh Ranjan Kumar, Hanuman Prasad Rai, Dheeraj Virmani
Music: Ajay Singha
Paharganj in Delhi is popular among Indian and international tourists and backpackers for its low-budget lodges, restaurants, street-side food stalls and bars. At least, that’s what it seems like on the surface. Rakesh Ranjan Kumar, however, attempts to show its darker side in Paharganj.
There are three stories running parallel in the film. There is Gautam Menon, a basketball coach, who has lost, his younger brother. Munna is a small-time gangster who is on the wrong side of the tracks, quite literally. He is constantly at loggerheads with Sonu, his nemesis. Then there is Laura, a Spanish girl, who has come to India in search of her lost boyfriend, Robert. These three stories are connected to the murder of Jitender Tomar, the son of the Home Minister.
Their point of intersection and how these stories relate to each other form the rest of the film. Or does it? Because the film ends up touching upon several issues such as shaming rape victims, debauched godmen, the incompetence of the Delhi police, prostitution motels in the garb of marriage bureaus and the battle of the powerful versus the powerless. There are so many events unfolding that you are unable to keep tabs on them but the makers do not care – and neither do we.
It also has shabby treatment and appears like a bunch of crime reality shows stitched together.
The editing by Sandeep Francis is another huge negative. The search for Robert goes on and on and you find yourself praying that Laura finds Robert just so you are spared!
The film opens with montages that give us a sneak peek of Paharganj. It is safe to say that Vinayak Radhakrishnan’s lens is the best thing about the film. It captures the hustle and bustle of the area well. Colourful but dim lights are used to project Paharganj as a hub of prostitution, drugs, alcohol abuse and basketball-betting that help convey the mood of the film.
Performance-wise, Lorena Franco struggles to emote. There is no anguish and turmoil evident on her face. She seems to be feeling out of place, much like us. The same goes for Brijesh Jayarajan. Salman Khan and Karan Soni are okay. Gautam Kurup, Poonam Mathur and Neet Chowdhary are irritating.