December, Year 2002. Amidst suffocating thick smoke, smell of liquer and pole dancers; the Evil itself, laid the trap of Lust -‘Bigdi hai taqdeer bana le, aye Juaari daanv laga le,.. tu kyon samajhta hai ke haar jayega, aisa nahin hoga,na na na!!!’
In 1992, acclaimed, Oscar winning, american film director Quentin J. terentino delivered Reservoir Dogs.Which was to be updated (no, I did not mean adapted) to 2002 Bollywood action film – KAANTE.
The call was convincing it’s most potential usual customers..The ever struggling, always rejected, unlucky lot…who with all their misfortunes, still comply to genetic reasons of going against the confines of obvious.
It is that misplaced genes &courage, which compels gambler’s instinct, to throw the dice again to claim their luck, at the stake of little they have. Evil holds the hand of outcasts and lead them to.. the path to hell, in style.
KAANTE, came up with crisp, clear, resounding philosophy – ‘ek na ek din, hum sabko narq toh jaana hi hai…ye kaam (bank robbery) karenge toh lambi gaadi mein jayenge..’
The game was set and the ball went rolling .
Betrayal, mayhem, destruction, bloodshed followed, shot in americanized format by ambitious Indian filmmaker Sanjay Gupta - White Feathers Films.
Above all Kaante was essentially about raw – brutal – masculine – glamour. The trademark Chopra&Johar ‘colourfullnes’ is totally and intentionally absent. That does not implyBenegals or Mani Kauls ‘colourlessness’.
Kaante is all SEPIA, the colour in which you would ‘want to be seen walking to dusk’, when you lose; so that you can think of yourself not as a loser but somebody who did not win due to bad luck.
Two macho men chatting, in their tuxedos, on sea side deck, smoking cigars, having millions of US$ in handbag, robbed from American bank. Isn’t that a picture perfect of ‘losers’, soon to be gunned down to body bags?? That was KAANTE, for hindi cinema audience.
Kaante can be credited to design the best of self-sympathizing& tactical excuses for men in ruins –
‘rabba main itna bura nahin hota … tu agar bewafa nahin hota..’
‘I would not have resorted to my ill doings..If you would not have betrayed me..’
The evil easily gets rid of all ONUS, in the shield of injustice bestowed upon thee. This certainly is one of the best ‘glamorized justification’ as to why we are, as we are.
Like most of Sanjay Gupta’s films, Kaante is a differently A category music album. One of best favorites in terms of lyrics, music, playback, background.
KAANTE became chapter in Indian cinema, and was termed ‘COMING OF AGE’ by many.
But then, Sanjay Gupta’s films are always heavily inspired (copied frame by frame some times) from world cinema.
After watching both movies it can be admitted that Kaante was ‘polished remake’ of RD.
The critics and detractors of KAANTE should atleast credit Gupta for positively perfect portrayal of such NEGATIVE precinct.
Soon, all bashing and criticism of KAANTE was made to ‘rest in peace’ by QT. Our very own and original, Quentin Terentino.
QT, candidly absolves Sanjay’s cinema, in Firstpost.com and later covered in TOI column – “I think it was fabulous. Of the many rip-offs (of “Reservoir Dogs”) I loved ….this one, “Kaante.” The best part is, you have Indian guys coming to US and looting a US bank. How cool is that!
I was truly honored... Here I am, watching a film that I've directed and then it goes into each character's background. And I'm like, ‘Whoa'….I always write backgrounds ….and it always gets chopped off during the edit. And so I was amazed on seeing this. I felt, this isn't “Reservoir Dogs.” But then it goes into the warehouse scene and I am like, ‘Wow it's back to “Reservoir Dogs” '. Isn't it amazing!”
Here, I wish to emphasize - each original work or inspiration, should be honestly &remarkably mentioned and highlighted. But any good hard work should not stashed away, as COPY, just because the work is inspired. Here, in India, KAANTE introduced filmgoers to ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and charismatic film maker QT.
QT feels ‘ honoured..’. Isn’t that his approval enough?? QT is happy that his characters, now have background, which he relents, he could never add due to Hollywood format of release.
Depriving credit to anybody – inspiration OR inspired – on part of anybody is dishonesty of equal measure.
Major – Amitabh Bachchan - aged, educated, unemployed, looking for work to take back his ailing wife to India
Ajju – Sanjay Dutt - Non-English, a foul-mouthed, trigger-happy gangster;
Marc – Sunil Shetty - out-of-work,loose temper,former bouncer with a girlfriend named Lisa, a bar dancer
Bali – Mahesh Manjeraker–petty drug peddler, womanizer, stammers funnily
Mak – Lucky Ali - MaqboolHaider, Bali's sidekick
Andy – Kumar Gaurav - white-collared, divorcee, wants his son back, cannot get custody due to low finance.
They are interrogated for a stolen truck with high price commodity. Being innocent (only this time), their antipathy towards system grows into a plot to loot a bank, which keeps salary of entire LAPD.
Major triggers – ‘the Italians have their Mafia, the Colombians have their Cartels, but the East Indian criminal community is yet to forge an organization, resulting in us getting pulled-in as the usual suspects every time there is a crime involving a colored person’. Implying – let’s rob them for vengeance.Each character is an antithesis of anything which is good. Darkness, hatred, pain, frustration, failures, agony, vengeance, bloodshed, betrayal, distrust is all around, exactly in the same order, as the main lead of the story.
In a very dramatic, upscale crisp scene, Majorpreparing to put forth a business proposal to a venture capitalist. After long long wait, when the capitalist starts getting interested, misfortune strikes - the LAPD suddenly pick him up on suspicion ruining his credibility and his chance to lead a straight life.
Cop : About the robbery, Tell us whatever you know about this..
Major : I'll tell what I know and what I do know is that you've made a very very big mistake by bringing me here.
Unlike common place Bollywood story lines, love, family, friendship, bonding and other sprinkle of positive seasoning are present, all in the last ranks of order.
But Kaante, however much Americanized, is a Bollywood film –
· The criminals sing and dance, with ammunition and spirits before robbery. No worries. Are these the same men who were handpicked on mere doubt??
· It has quintessential cancer suffering wife (for Big B); epileptic, differently abled sister (for Mahesh); a child custody case (Kumar G aka Andy); a needy bar dancer (malaika for SunilS)..of erstwhile cinema!!
Like in real life, the film honestly portrays each of its antagonists reaping a criminal in them. The system or the lack of it, gives the criminality a vent, and it blows off into a mass destruction.After, not so successful loot, the gang runs into argument, ironically - over moral issues, involving a hostage who is a cop.
Mexican stand-off occurs, each pointing gun at other two. All shoot each other. Mak is revealed to be the police mole in the gang. Ajju mocks Major for his inability to identify Mak, to be a mole, and dies. Major kills wounded Mak at point blank. Andy runs away with loot money, but is pursued by Police helicopter and bad luck; implicating he must have been shot dead by LAPD. Mak narrates to later meet them all in hell.
Black - above 18 comedy, exceptionally lies in first ranks of film. MilapZhaaevri flaunts his wit & humor through dialogues. Everybody, including females, will have fun, but definitely not as family viewer__
Cop to ajju : in hindi - kal raat tum kahaan the ? [Where were you last night?]
Ajju : [coolly pointing towards cop’s superior McRorie] iski biwi ke saath – [with his wife] without a blink.
The hindi knowing cop hurriedly translates that in English to british superior McRorie, and then realizes his mistake.
Ajju: If I put this bomb on your head... what's gonna blow first? The bomb or your head?
Baali': The bomb... no... the head can also blow first... its a very tough question... you tell me... what will blow first?
Ajju: Neither the bomb nor the head... your ……!!!!
Ajju to all :Sawaalyehnahihaiki bar meindarukitnihai ... sawaalyehhaikitukitni pi saktahai
The lyrics have character of
- Greed –“Chhodnikaalke collar bedu ,gin nikaalke dollar, phirtohrozdil se nayediljodna re.. “
Death – “zindahoke mar gaya main..markezinda ho gaya…”
The movie in undertones croons and appeases second bests, losers, failures. Watch out for these lyrics –“kismet kemaare - asi (self)- kikariye.. kismetpekiskazorhai..”which translates to -we are the victims of failed destiny.. what do we do? who can control destiny??” ultimate justification!!
Kaante is based & filmed in Los Angeles and produced by stalwarts like PritishNandy, Raju Patel, Sanjay Dutt and Gupta himself. Hollywood technicians were taken on board for shooting the film in a style, which became Gupta’s trademark. Exotics LA locales and excellent camera work!!
The latent inheritance of Bollywood, at times pops out unpleasantly, in the film. By it’s very concept, Kaante was not intended to be regular Bollywood feature, it mostly stood true to that intention.
Sanjay Gupta should also be congratulated for perfect handling of mega stars without losing his director’s grip. Though his over indulgence to presentation skills, makes him commit numerous errors on overall editing including that of dialogues – Major to Andy : tum bilkul mere jaise ho, seedhe saade …what nonsense! Who says that! Who accepts that.
Sanjay Dutt carrieshis gangster persona easily, and handles ammunition naturally. Big B reaffirmed why he is a respected legend. No over or underplay, no shadowing of other characters. Kaante is a feather of another colour in his cap. It was nice to see Kumar Gaurav on screen. He was handsome fit to his role. The film introduced Mahesh M and Lucky Ali in new avatar. Mahesh M bagged some awards for his character, bali.
Film’s music was & is super hit. ‘Rama re’ ‘Ishq samundar’ ‘Maahive’ ‘sochanahintha’ Malaika with other pole dancers, sizzled in every number.
Title KAANTE is strangely well suited to context & overall film premise. Despite delayed release in 2002, Kaante opened to advance booking and packed houses.In the era of films like Sathiya or Devdas; Kaante revived the dud of Box Office 02 and brought back men, guns, action, thrill, Harley Davidsons, explosions, bloodshed and (foul mouthed) dark humour, to foreground.
“dollar bhi chahiye inhe pound bhi chahiye, sone ke sikkon ka sound bhichahiye..”…yes I agree. Do you??
PS 1- Kaante was first Bollywood film to be completely shot in Los Angeles.
PS 2-the credit for Events&Films company goes to it’s owner Gaurav Raj, who prefers to be called – Gaurav GREAT– for some reason.
All blogs are authored by ASPS and they call him Billa – for another set of some reasons.
On ground zero.. this is billa, narrating in lower case!!