SANAK (2021)

Vidyut Jammwal as Vivaan
  • Release Date: 15/10/2021
  • Platform: Zee5
  • Cast: Vidyut Jammwal, Neha Dhupia, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Rukmini Maitra
  • Director: Kanishk Varma

Sanak has neither the madness nor the exhilarating thrills to justify its title

— Ambar Chatterjee

Vivaan (Vidyut) and Anshika (Rukmini) are a happily married couple. Anshika is diagnosed with a medical condition that puts her in perennial danger and forces Vivaan to sell their property to arrange enough funds to have her treated. Anshika recovers after the treatment and it seems as if Vivaan’s life is back on track. Sadly, on the day of her discharge, Vivaan finds himself fighting against a gang of marauding thugs who take over the hospital that Anshika is admitted in. The thugs led by Saju (Chandan Roy Sanyal) want to rescue and make their way with a high-profile defense contractor who is under arrest and receiving treatment in the same hospital. The man is responsible for gross anomalies in defense deals and has been responsible for the deaths of numerous soldiers because of his faulty weapons. With only Vivaan standing between the thugs and the success of their evil plans, the stage is set for Vidyut Jammwal to showcase his martial arts skills and flexibility.  

The problem with all films like Sanak is the fact that it feels dated in its storytelling, execution, and underlying craft. The film begins by showing us Anshika tackling Vivaan during a lighter moment. This was to inform us that she could do something like that. I knew this aspect of the character would be used again at a critical juncture and it is in the climax. When the mayhem starts, we see Anshika send a voice message to Vivaan asking him not to be a hero as he is an MMA coach. This is to remind us that Vivaan knows MMA and so that we are able to accept him killing terrorists in tactical armor with clinical ease and proficiency.

As Vivaan goes about doing his stuff, he is aided by a kid who knows everything about bombs and weapons as he plays a lot of pc and mobile games. Have you ever seen that before? I am sure you have in the 1990s or 2000s Bollywood commercial films. This aspect of the character is pulled to its limits in the final moments of the film when we see the same kid defuse a bomb that even the Bomb disposal squad was in two minds about. I don’t know what’s more shocking in this sequence, the ineptitude of the Bomb Squad or the insane skills of the kid that he acquired playing Call of Duty and PUBG. Aiding Vivaan also is an employee of the hospital, Riyaaz (Chandan Roy) who knows everything about the layout of the hospital and cracks insufferable jokes in the most serious of situations. His character has no other reason to exist apart from maintaining the diversity of the cast. Chandan Roy was a revelation in Panchayat but has been stuck in some terrible roles every since. Neha Dhupia is horribly miscast as the leader of the police department dealing with the hostages and it is done only to ensure that we have atleast one strong female character to tell the men what they should do and keep their raging patriarchy in a check.

Chandan Roy Sanyal as Saju

The film has action as its USP and the action sequences are not too bad but they are plagued by a problem that has plagued numerous Bollywood films before and one that Bollywood refuses to accept or take seriously. Action feels thrilling or appeals to our senses when it is between well-developed characters that we have a connection with or atleast characters that are not mere props (except zombie and war films). It is evident that Jammwal got into an agreement with a team of stuntmen or arranged them separately and put them in a team led by two actors. Sadly these stuntmen are so inept at expressing and acting that even the little blink and miss portions that they are made to enact, end up spoiling horrifyingly. Their cause is not helped by the excruciatingly written dialogues. When that happens it becomes apparent that these characters are fake and are there just there for Vidyut to bash up. This drains the much-needed tension out of the action sequences and makes them appear mundane. The action sequences here also feel staged and lack physicality. Add to that the poor editing and numerous goof ups and you have the USP of the film marred to a large extent.

The film’s dialogues are atrociously bad. Even the romantic bits between Vidyut and Rukmini extract more cringe than sweetness. The two child actors are given lines that you pray hadn’t been given to them. Not only do these dialogs make them appear unlikeable but also question the relevance of the said lines in the situations that they are mouthed in. the only character that feels real in the way he speaks is the antagonist Saju played by Chandan Roy Sanyal. I found Sanyal’s performance to be the closest to reality and his lines landed on many occasions, unlike all the other actors who felt as if they were just reading lines from the script as there was no emotional payload behind their words.

There is a sense of déjà vu throughout Sanak and every twist and turn of it can be predicted ages before they actually happen. There is no novelty in the tale, execution, or the end result. The characters are uninspiring and even the action that should have been its forte feels recycled and repackaged using a few new gimmicks. I hate to criticize a film when I know how much hard work goes into making one but when one is this inept; there remains little room to defend it. I spent nearly 2 hours on this film on the day of Vijaya Dashami when I could have done a whole lot of other things. I did it because I had high hopes from Vidyut Jammwal and the film hoped to be entertained by it. Unfortunately, it turned out to be no better than his previous releases like JungleeThe Power, and Yaara.

Rating: 2 out of 5.


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