BAAZAAR (2018)

  • Release Date: 26/10/2018
  • Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Rohan Vinod Mehra, Radhika Apte, Chitrangada Singh
  • Director: Gauravv K. Chawla

I am a huge Wall Street fan. Released in 1987 and directed by Oliver Stone, it is easily one of the most entertaining and gripping dramas centered on business and the abuse of power and money. Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen acted out a film between themselves that was so well envisioned and made that it was difficult to believe that it was a fictional story. “Greed is good” the immortal lines mouthed by Gordon Gekko still remains etched in my memory and that is just one of the many memorable things about the film. When I learned that Baazaar was a remake of Wall Street, I was immediately sheepish about it. After watching the trailers I felt that the film might have merit but when it was relapsed I just couldn’t bring myself to watch it. It was maybe because Wall Street was playing at the back of my mind which didn’t let me take the film as a standalone film. I watched it recently when the film was released online and now I regret not having watched it in the theaters when it was released.

Baazaar is immensely influenced by Wall Street but the film has its own story to tell and in a very Indian sort of a way. Rizwan Ahmed (Rohan Vinod Mehra) is an ambitious young lad who comes to Mumbai to become a big shot. He finds it hard to get a foothold in the investment banking landscape but eventually lands up with a job with the biggest and best investment banking firms in the city. However, that is not his final goal. Rizwan has his eyes set on netting Shakun Kothari (Saif Ali Khan), a ruthless investor who is looked upon as a wrecker of business houses by some and a liberator of human and business potentials by others. Shakun takes Rizwan under his wings but he has plans of his own for him. What happens next forms the crux of the narrative.

I liked Baazaar for the simple reason that in spite of the fact that it is a remake of Wall Street it never tries to do a blatant copy-paste job. Keeping the skeleton of the original story intact, Gauravv K. Chawla populates the narrative with very Indianized situations and material. Be it the introduction of Shakun Kothari where see him blackmails a company director into submission using very indigenous methods or his coercion to get the better of Rizwan, things feel fresh and real. Even if Shakun’s character is kept aside, a smaller player like Priya Rai (Radhika Apte) also has a very desi feel to her gusto and the manner in which her character propagates. The proceedings of the film remain brisk and interesting which really helps the cause. Just as was the case with Wall Street we are able to relate to the characters and their motives and that makes the narrative come alive.

Having said all that, the biggest pull and plus of the film is still a stellar Saif Ali Khan. He hasn’t been this good in a long time and I believe this is the kind of role that he should be doing more often. As Shakun Kothari, he not only nails the character and the feel of it but he also becomes the axis on which the whole narrative of the film hinges. Take out Saif from the film and nothing remains the same. That’s how important he is to the film. He is suave, ruthless and heroic in more ways than one. If that was not enough he brings a kind of swagger to his character that is impossible to miss. Add to that his spot on tempo and a style of dialogue delivery that overshadows his on and off Gujarati accent and you have a leading man who is alone enough to pull a film with his act.

I only wish the same could be said about Rohan Vinod Mehra who has an extremely important part to play but falters every now and then. He does do well in the scenes where he is shown victimized but other than that, he is fairly generic. He is overshadowed in every sense of the term by Saif Ali Khan in every scene that he shares with him including the ones where he is supposed to have an upper hand over Khan. He is also overshadowed by Radhika Apte who just radiates off the screen. Apte is not just apt for the role that she essays here but adds a lot more to the character than what was actually needed. It’s her character arc that proves to be the biggest shocker of them all by the end. Chitrangada Singh chooses another role that she should have said no to. It does nothing for her neither is it important to the plot. I want to see her in more roles like what she did in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi or Inkaar.

Baazaar proves to be a worthy watch for its story, execution and Saif Ali Khan. It is entertaining, affecting and absorbing. The fact that it has its basis in a story that has already worked wonders only makes it that much more interesting. Baazaar does merit a watch.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)  


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