The Film: Zameen
Starring: Ajay Devgan, Bipasha Basu, Abhishek Bachchan
Director: Rohit Shetty
Producer: N. R. Pachisia
Music: Himesh Reshammiya
Release Date: 26th September 2003
Movie Rating: 7/10
Col. Ranvir Singh Ranawat (Ajay Devgan in a year which has rained hits for him; once again in a dynamic role and also making cancer societies seethe in fury due to his incessant smoking) apprehends Baba Zaheer (Mukesh Tiwari coming back as the baddie after the reformed baddie role in Gangaajal) the head of a terrorist organisation Al Tahir. Six months later, four terrorists manage to cross the Indo-Pakistan border, and reach Bombay. At the other end of the spectrum, ACP Jai (Abhishek Bachchan in a good performance, his second in a row after "Kuch Naa Kaho", he also seems to be taking good care of his body language and clothes) is tracking a gun-trafficking ring, which leads him unexpectedly to clues that unravel a bigger leak in military intelligence.
The two of them get together to capture the terrorists before they can do some serious harm. We learn at this point that Abhishek has a past which bothers him, and it also involves Ajay Devgan. They are unable to prevent the terrorists before they hijack an airplane. The hijackers' demand is to free Mukesh Tiwari. Ajay and Abhishek start tumbling over dead bodies as they try to find out the roots of the hijacking plan.
Nandini (Bipasha Basu in a role briefer than her clothes in Jism) has a role as Abhishek's fiancee and does nothing much except being an air hostess in the plane that gets hijacked (She tries desperately to act like Halle Berry in "Executive Decision", but fails mainly due to her scenes seemingly cut at the editing table). What follows is a screen representation of the Kandahar hijacking. But, unlike the real life episode, lots of action scenes and car crashes later, the hostages are rescued without returning the terrorists.
Ajay Devgan is certainly in a charmed phase. His prayers at the Ajmer Dargah seem to have paid off, and he is having a bumper crop of hits this year. Zameen can be considered a likely hit too. When the defence minister tells Ajay "Ab saara desh tum par hi to bharosa kar raha hai", (The whole nation's trust is with you), I nearly felt like saying... "Yes Ajay, the whole nation is expecting you to save Abhishek from his streak of flops". But I sincerely think Ajay should cosmetically enhance his horrible teeth. They seem to peek out every now and then when he starts screaming.
Abhishek does a fairly decent job, but what seems lacking is the inherent determination or fire from within that his role required. He tries to play a cool cop instead, which certainly does not suit the character, as he is not able to portray any angst which seems natural for the role. Bipasha has no scenes to boast of, and most of the songs have also been chopped off for the movie. So she plays second fiddle, no, correct that, third fiddle after a long while. Mukesh Tiwari seems to justify the confidence that Raj Kumar Santoshi had when he introduced him in "China Gate". He can claim the mantle of the biggest baddie of them all when the time is appropriate. Meanwhile, in this movie, he has very few dialogues, and lots of punches. Unfortunately, he is always at the receiving end of those punches.
Rohit Shetty has debuted in style. He shows an amazing flair to control the subject which could easily have gone out of hands for the likes of Kuku Kohli, Sanjay Gupta et al. He has displayed constraint in using all elements of the script so that they do not overwhelm the viewer. He certainly is a director to watch out for. Editing by Bunty Nagi is extremely crisp. In keeping with the tone of the movie, the dialogues need to be extremely vitriolic and witty. Javed Siddiqui disappoints somewhat in that department. But he shows some brilliant sparks once in a while.
Himesh Reshammiya's music is relegated to the background, as the story takes center stage unexpectedly in a Bollywood film. The only tracks included are the "Simple si coffee" (which seems quite irritating) and the item number "Dilli ki sardi" picturised on Amrita Arora (She certainly is no Raveena Tandon or Shilpa Shetty, who have mastered the art of item songs). Also, the title track is featured when the credits are rolling (picturised on the singers Shaan and KK). But a common thread between the other slick action thriller in recent months, Qayamat, and this one is the writer Suparn Verma. He had also written Chhal, which too was a low scale hit. He is the person who has given the movie a soul which breathes. The action scenes by Jai Singh are certainly worth a mention, but he seems to have a fetish for smashing cars (and that too ones without drivers or dummies in them). The one sore point is the cinematography by Aseem Bajaj. He goes in for awkward angles, and leaves the viewers without a proper view of the proceedings.
1) Director Rohit Shetty is the son of the late action director/villain of yesteryear usually credited in his films as Shetty.
2) The locations shown as Pakistan occupied Kashmir are actually from Latur, a district in Maharashtra (famous due to the earthquake in 1993).
3) During the shooting of the climax scene, there was a major mishap where the dummy plane which was being used for shooting caught fire and blew up.
4) Rohit Shetty has assisted on directing a number of films featuring Ajay Devgan, including his home production Raju Chacha. It was during the making
of this film that Ajay had promised him that he would give Rohit a break at direction.
5) This is the first action film for Abhishek. He looks promising in a few scenes, but needs to beef up his repertoire of "redemption seeking angry
young man" with some real expressions.
Would I recommend this movie to someone?
One of the new breed of action movies hitting Bollywood, this is certainly a good bet. But beware as there is quite a bit of Paki-bashing in the movie, which also turns out to be its strong as well as sore point. Apart from that, I can see no reason not to recommend this movie. Bollywood has always been about films having high dramatic content, and this could not have been changed by directors like Sanjay Gupta who go in for style without substance to back it up (I think he figures out the action scenes first and then the screenplay). Rohit Shetty and Suparn Verma seem to be the most likely candidates who can change this.