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Akshaye rules 36 China Town

He is the only highlight of this sloppy film, writes Arnab Bannerjee.

india Updated: May 09, 2006 12:25 IST

How often can a single actor carry a film on his shoulders? Many a times, one would argue, but not without the support of an able director or a believable script. There are only few exceptions to this rule.

Hence, this week's crown goes to Akshaye Khanna for his astute wisdom and charming insouciance, that makes him a winner in the Abbas-Mustan’s 36 China Town.

This is not the first time that he has carved a niche for himself. He was remarkable in Subhash Ghai's Taal, Farhan Akhtar's Dil Chahta Hai and Priyadarshan's Hulchul. Sadly he remains an actor whose potential hasn’t been tapped.

In 36... Khanna plays a cop but does not look like one. He has a major part of the action after the interval and keeps the viewers intriguingly glued to the mysterious murder of a rich casino owner called Sonia.

The opening scene where Khanna comes to know of the murder at the police station is remarkable. He decides to handle the case head on. As his interest level shows signs of almost instant action, his expressive face brightens up at the very thought of several discrepancies in the case.

Akshaye Khanna's accomplished acting skills serve as an absolute foil to Paresh Rawal’s one-liners.

Notice the scene when he gets to know about Shahid Kapur, the upcoming actor who gets implicated in the murder mystery along with Kareena Kapoor. While assessing Kapur's credibility, his know-all demeanour has an air of flamboyance and right mix of expert wisdom.

Also, viewers would find it endearing to see him pit his alluring brazenness against Paresh Rawal's great coming act. Khanna's accomplished acting skills serve as an absolute foil to Rawal’s one-liners. As Rawal cooks up tales, Khanna has the audience rolling with laughter. But at the same time, Khanna's clever and perceptive query, delivered in his inimitable self assured manner captivates the hearts of audience.

There are certain aspects to his persona which deserve special mention here. Khanna's swagger as he walks down the police station or into the palatial house of Sonia adds the much needed charisma asociated with a detective. His cigarette, which finds itself invariably unlit for want of a light, has an alluring look - that of a demanding and eventful job that he has at hand.

Khanna's class act is so fascinating that his style and delightful role seems to be the only redeeming feature in the poor script, which meanders from a who-done-it to a comic caper. Needless to add, he lifts the film from sagging to the pits.

First Published: May 07, 2006 23:00 IST