Saat Uchakkey review: Poor man’s Ocean’s Eleven
Direction: Sanjeev Sharma
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Kay Kay Menon, Vijay Raaz, Annu Kapoor
What if Ocean’s Eleven was set in the narrow lanes of Old Delhi? What if, instead of the suave, sophisticated Danny Ocean and Rusty Ryan, you had good-for-nothing Dilli laundas in charge of a heist? The sort who while away their days doing odd jobs or not very much at all, try to hit on neighbourhood girls, crack lewd jokes, and swear twice per sentence.
“Maa ki gaali mat dena b*******d,” says gang-leader apparent Pappi (Manoj Bajpayee). And just that one line could very well define the movie. It’s crass, yes. But given the setting and the characters, it’s not incredible. And you can’t deny that it is funny.
As a little comedy of errors set in Old Delhi, about a ragtag bunch that wants to loot treasure apparently hidden inside the frayed, local haveli, Saat Uchakkey might just have worked.
But debut director Sanjeev Sharma wraps it in a rather disconnected, and unnecessary, tale replete with spiritual mumbo-jumbo. The two stories are so jarringly incongruent, it’s like watching characters (just one character, in this case) from one film ran amok through another, appearing in random scenes, as if they’d wandered on to the wrong studio floor.
Unfortunately, it is this peripheral story that opens the film. Shot through a Jazbaa-ish green filter, you meet Bichchi (Annu Kapoor) in a mental asylum. He’s some sort of a legend, who can make people do his bidding, and he escapes after hypnotising one of the doctors. For the rest of the film, his job is to appear unexpectedly, ham, and deliver soliloquies perhaps meant to be absurd. He does achieve absurd. Just not good absurd.
Meanwhile, our intrepid heroes are putting together a team, like any good heist film. But instead of experts, they must make do with shady friends, and shadier acquaintances: the local locksmith, a crook who hangs about courts trying to rig petty cases, a tourist guide at Red Fort who sells tourists cheap wares as exotic. They have fitting names too, all pet names, presumably: Pappi, Jaggi (Vijay Raaz), Sona (Aditi Sharma), Khappe, Babbe… you get the drift. Given the ambition of their plan, they aren’t being chased by the police force, but just the honest local cop, Tejpal (Kay Kay Menon).
Watch the trailer here:
It’s a solid cast. The sort that’d hold fort in any damn film. They’re nuanced when needed, crass and loud and swearing their mouths off for the most part because that’s what has been asked for.
In its character portrayal, in capturing Old Delhi, in its cheap, but real, humour, is the film’s high point.
But it is wasted in a story that is too long, and that runs out of ideas during the actual heist. It devolves into a Priyadarshan-ish comic climax, and uncalled-for divine intervention.
In the end, it has flavour, a seed of a good idea even, something mega-budget films often lack. But like our Dilli Laundas Eleven, it lacks planning and execution.