Aankhen (2002)

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Aankhen (2002)
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal, Sushmita Sen
Director: Vipul Shah
Music Director: Aadesh Srivastava
Nutshell: an exciting if improbable thriller – flawed but stylish and entertaining

 

The caption of the film says “a dangerous game is about to begin”. In fact, this is a dangerous gamble which Vipul Shah is taking in churning out a “different” film and hoping that it will rake in the moolah in the process. Sadly, I fear that this is a gamble which will not pay off but hats off to Shah for making an effort to execute what is a film with polish and great finesse.

Mr Rajput (Amitabh Bachchan) is a schizophrenic bank manager of the Vilas Rao Jefferson bank. Having caught an employee stealing 100 rupees from a customer, Rajput beats him senseless and in the process, gets the sack. I should hope so but he takes this extremely personally and sets about ways of revenge. Finally, he decides to bring the bank to its knees and plans a bank robbery. But this is no ordinary bank robbery. Having kidnapped Neha Srivastava’s (Sushmita sen) brother, he forces her to train three blind men to execute the impossible…robbing a bank. Neha is a teacher at a blind school. Putting an ad in the newspaper, he chooses three candidtaes for the job. Arjun (Arjun Rampal), Ilyas (Paresh Rawal) and Vishwas (Akshay Kumar), the latter only blinded three years ago but having the knack of sensing danger through his “sixth sense”. Rajput’s only condition is that Neha should train the men without revelaing that he is behind the operation.

Hence, the troops are put together and trained for this bank robbery. Ilyas is game by reason of greed, Arjun because Neha pleads to his good nature and Vishwas because he smells a hidden agenda. They go through their paces, blundering often but nevertheless sticking to the task. Vishwas is sure that there is someone apart from Neha who is present and tries to ascertain this but unsuccessfully.

The bank robbery does not exactly go to plan and this is where the fun is supposed to begin. But it is at this point that the film begins to lose its credence even though it is always entertaining. Flawed in its script, it still manages to engage if you decide to leave logic to the stars and just accept the film for what it is. For it is a well executed Hollywood style thriller, pacy, interesting and excellently acted. It is clear that it is based on a play and you can almost see it work successfully. The writer is less successful in transferring this to the big screen although by and large he does a good job. However, the cliched kidnap of Neha’s brother to force her cooperation is a ploy only too often used in so many bollywood run of the mill flicks and one wishes that there could have been a better excuse for Neha to be forced into working for the evil Rajput. Also the proposed love angle, brief though it may be between Arjun and Neha is forced and unconvincing. Fortunately, there is only the one dialogue “aur main tum se pyaar karne laga hoon” but when said, one cringes. There are also inconsistencies towards the climax and the ending may leave many feeling that the director has entered the realms of fantasy, however delicious it may be.

Bachchan gives a brilliant account of himself and watching him in Aankhen makes you realise how he was caught in the confines of his image when younger when he did not take on more courageous roles. This really is an excellent performance. Matching him at every step with an equally brilliant performance is Akshay Kumar. Could be his best performance so far. Arjun Rampal is less effective in a wimpish role. Paresh Rawal I found irritating and loud but his role demanded it. Another excellent performance comes from Sushmita whose scenes with Bachchan are excellent executed and at no point do you feel that she is the lesser performer.

The director has made an assured debut and by and large, delivers a taut and interesting film. He does have to give into the cliches of songs which are completely wasted in this film including the guest appearance by flavour of the month Bipasha Basu. That whole segment could be deleted but I guess the public needs some form of musical relief. The Kashmira song could be cut out in its entirety as the film tends to slow down at that point when in fact, the drama should have been heightened then. Musically, none of the songs have much appeal apart from a popular slant. Phatela Jeb has an odd appeal although it will soon be forgotten. The photography is excellent and technically, this is a film that stands apart from most. On the whole, loads of fun and well done Vipul Shah for offering us something which deviates from the norm.