Director: Raj Kumar Gupta
Cast: Rajeev Khandelwal, Gajraj Rao, Shashanka Ghosh
Storyline: Homecoming turns into a nightmare for Aamir after he finds his family missing and a phone tossed into his hand on arrival.
Bottomline: Blows your mind
You can sense an original film two minutes into it.
Aamir is fresh right from the introductory montage of Mumbai waking up to ‘It’s a good day.’ We see everyday sights, like it would be cut for a documentary on one of the greatest cities in the world.
The common man and the general public are no extras in the film. They are the fabric the film is made of.
They are there all through the film, never letting you suspend your disbelief and that’s what makes Aamir one of the most engaging films ever made in recent times. That’s why the climax keeps you riveted and your heart pounding.
Debutant director Raj Kumar Gupta knows his craft. He knows the best way to make you buy his constructed reality is if he plants his character into a reality you are so familiar with – the reality of Mumbai with its dirty patli-galis and people so engrossed in their lives that they have stopped caring about others.
Screenwriting textbooks would tell you that if the scene does not take the story forward, it shouldn’t be in the film. Aamir works exactly because it does not follow these rules.
There are scenes that have nothing to do with the story as such but they portray reality of life. Haven’t you often got into the cab often hoping the driver knows the route?
Aamir is great storytelling because it employs moments like that to give its surreal narrative oodles of credibility and makes what’s an unreal situation extremely plausible.
Not only does in sparkle in form, Aamir is high on content too with its layering. At one level, it’s just the story of a helpless man trying to save his family, reduced to being a puppet at the hands of the people who’ve kidnapped his loved ones and is told that man does not write his own destiny.
At another level (*spoiler alert till end of the paragraph, select text to highlight*), it’s about the Muslim identity post 9/11 and takes you deep into the mind of the terrorist. Aamir, after being searched thoroughly by the Customs on arrival, is first sent to the lesser-developed pockets of the city. His first stop is at a National Restaurant where he sees a middle class family contemplating ordering cola, his second stop is a Gulistan building which is in ruins, all he has to do after that is make a call to Karachi to get into the bad books of the cops and little later, he’s walking through a slaughter-house and asked to halt at the Indo-Gulf lodge where he gets in touch with the men who provide the money which after a few scenes is traded for a bomb.
Yes, a few stereotypes do find their way into the film but then, the filmmaker does his best to debunk some of them. Like the bit where he casually shows us his fundamentalist villain sip MNC branded cola. It’s these casual cues that work better than the obvious metaphors like the slaughter-house or the monkey toy that is hit on the head when it stops dancing after being given the key.
Rajeev Khandelwal is such a terrific actor that it is impossible to believe he’s from the soap opera circuit. The support cast is fresh and raw, and all that adds to the fabric of realism as captured by cinematographer Alphonse Roy.
The score, though a little inspired from the ‘Requiem for a Dream’ theme, haunts you long after the film’s over.
Creative producer Anurag Kashyap once again proves that he is the best thing to happen to independent filmmaking of our times.
Overall, Aamir is one film you don’t want to miss, more so if you are a movie-buff.