Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Emmay Entertainment present “Lucknow Central”
Produced by: Nikhil Advani, Monisha Advani & Madhu Bhojwani
Directed by: Ranjit Tiwari
Written by: Ranjit Tiwari & Aseem Arora
Music: Tanishk Bagchi, Arjuna Harjaie, Rochak Kohli, Sukhwinder Singh & Michael Danna
Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Diana Penty, Rajesh Sharma, Deepak Dobriyal, Manav Vij, Inaamulhaq, Ravi Kissen, Ronit Roy, Virendra Saxena, Robin Das, Manoj Tiwari and others
The film has a lot of pluses going for it: it is inspired by a real scenario (jail bands in Uttar Pradesh), has standout performances by many actors and a likable air to the simplistic climax. And yet…!
The slipshod direction (good in parts, silly in others) and simplistic script, however, pull down the film, studded as it is with political clichés as well. Singer aspirant Kishen Girhotra (Farhan Akhtar) falls foul of a politico and is framed for his murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in Moradabad. By coincidence, a whimsical CM (Ravi Kissen) wants a musical band to be formed by jail inmates. The agenda, as in Yash Raj Films’ recent calamity “Qaidi Band” that had the same broad premise (with cosmetic changes as the film was launched much later but released earlier), is political gains for the CM more than any aim to have social service and jail reforms.
A social worker, Gayatri (Diana Penty) supports this initiative, and when she comes to know that Kishen is a good singer, she gets him transferred to Lucknow Central. Here, Kishen gets caught up in in-jail politics between two lifers, Pandit (Rajesh Sharma) and his rival (Manav Vij). Gradually, with Pandit’s help, he forms a band with Victor Chattopadhyaya (Deepak Dobriyal), Pandit himself, Dikkat Ansari (Inaamulhaq) and Parminder Singh (Gippy Grewal), a man with a kirtan background.
But Kishen’s game-plan is to escape, and gradually he involves his associates in his conspiracy, which will bear fruition on the day of the performance, August 15. Inspector Shrivastava (Ronit Roy) smells a rat and has never been in favor of such a band. But he is overruled by Gayatri and his bosses. What happens next?
The script, like this week’s co-release “Simran” as well as “Qaidi Band,” is over-simplistic, with silly gaffes. Why, for example, does Kishen pretend to be dumb when he arrives in Lucknow Central when he has come to be a singer?? In “Qaidi Band” we were told that only undertrials could wear their clothes, while those serving terms have to wear uniforms. Here, everyone wears their apparel. As per Indian law, only one of these options can be correct.
The five of them escape like people going out for a stroll but across obstacles like walls and hurdles. And why had they hidden (and how) clothes in a drum and why did the jailor suspect that?
Finally, the crowning stupidity is that Kishen planned to start a band (after escaping from jail!) and dreamt of people chanting his name as if the police would not bother to try and re-arrest him! For this loony aspect itself, writer-director Tiwari and his co-writer Bajaj need a shrink!
Farhan Akhtar is his usual self, and Diana Penty, despite being competent, a disappointment after being so delightful in “Happy Bhag Jayegi.” Rajesh Sharma and Deepak Dobriyal are predictably superb, while Inaamulhaq is alright. Gippy Grewal acquits himself well, and so does Ronit Roy, but it is Ravi Kissen who is bang-on as the self-obsessed CM with a fantastic sense of humor.
The music and background score are unremarkable, with the highlight being the re-created “Kaava Kaava.” Technically, the film gets pass marks. But as value for money, it does not.