When I happened to watch Shagird (2011) in the BHEL club, I was immensely surprised to find that not only this brilliant movie had flopped on the box office but a majority of reputed reviewers had also abstained from reviewing it. This is how hype and promotion become more important than the quality of the product.Tigmanshu Dhulia had carved a niche for himself through his very first directorial venture – Haasil (2003). And this underrated movie is another illustration of his abundant talent. It’s a brilliant movie whose class can be felt and understood by seeing it only.Though several Bollywood movies have come before the audience which are based on encounter specialists and several others have come which are based on the corrupt cops. However this movie is unique. It’s neither Gangaajal (2003) nor Kagaar (2003) nor Ab Tak Chhappan (2004) nor Yeh Saali Zindagi (2011). It has a class of its own. Encounter specialist cop, Nana Patekar is thoroughly corrupt and works for the corrupt politician, Zakir Hussain, eliminating his adversaries and those who can prove dangerous for him. He gets a newly recruited junior cop, Mohit Ahlawat to work under him in the police station. The real drama starts with the kidnapping of some journalists consisting of Mohit’s sweetheart, Rimi Sen too. Some hardcore terrorists are released for getting the journalists free and alongwith them is released the ex-henchman of Zakir Hussain, Anurag Kashyap. How the main protagonist Nana Patekar and his Shagird (pupil), Mohit Ahlawat get involved in these developments and what’s the climax of this story is a treat to watch.Shagird is a rare thriller made in Bollywood which keeps the viewer spellbound right from the very first frame to the very last frame. There is no unnecessary dragging and no useless incidents to add to the length of the movie. Even the smallest incident shown in the movie has a link with the main story. It’s something unusually pleasant and evidences the proficiency of the script-writer and the director. The narrative keeps the viewer hooked throughout 140 minutes. The first half prepares the ground for the second half and the second half keeps on rendering electric currents to the viewer scene after scene. There is a twist in the tale even in the ending scene. The superfast pace of the movie does not give the viewer any time to think. But it does not challenge his intelligence and after watching the movie completely, if the viewer ponders over what he has seen, he does not feel cheated because everything is logically knitted and in proper place. Even the title of the movie is just perfect according to the story told. The second half of the movie is just like a game of chess, containing checks and checkmates upon the chessboard of the Indian police system. It reminds of Abbas Mustan’s Race (2008) in which it becomes difficult for the viewer to identify as to who colludes with whom and who deceives whom.Though the kidnapping episode is not very impressive and the Mohit Ahlawat-Rimi Sen romance track is half-baked, these are minor flaws in this otherwise highly admirable movie. The director has shown his better sense by keeping the movie sans any songs and the flow of the narrative is nowhere blocked. The background score and the technical aspects of the movie are topnotch. The action and chase sequences are outstanding. The cinematographer has captured Delhi and nearby areas quite realistically and effectively.
I also admire the director for keeping the movie free from expletives which is also unusual now-a-days. Given the milieu of the story, he could have filled it with expletives under the pretext of showing reality. But it’s very nice of him to keep the movie clean. He has not shown any vulgarity also.Nana Patekar has outshone his co-actors in the author-backed role of the smart yet corrupt cop who is very fond of old Hindi movie songs and whose knowledge about them is extra-ordinary. His character in the movie reminded me of the main protagonist of a Hindi pulp-fiction bestsellter – Vardi Waala Gunda (penned by Late Ved Prakash Sharma). Mohit Ahlawat has wasted a golden opportunity and he is just average. Anurag Kashyap has proved that he is not only a class director but also a class actor. Rimi Sen and others are okay. Murli Sharma leaves his mark in the cameo of a coward journalist. But the distinction marks go to Zakir Hussain who has infused life into the role of the corrupt politician.
Tigmanshu Dhulia has taken cinematic liberty of ignoring several aspects of the Indian police system in telling his story but he can be excused for that because keeping the narration focussed at the desired place instead of covering several diversified things on a large canvas, has helped keeping the movie engrossing and entertaining. He has shown as if all the encounters and killings by Indian cops are motivated only and nothing happens in Indian police stations except killings for vested interests and warming own pockets which may not be true.
My final words – I strongly recommend this movie for the thriller fans who will find the experience of watching this movie akin to a roller-coaster ride. Just sit in front of the screen and keep on watching it holding your breath tight. It’s an edge-of-the-seat thriller.
A great one time watch.
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