Machine Review

A theatrical poster of "Machine" featuring Kiara Advani and Mustafa. (Photo provided) 

Pen Audio, AD Films and Abbas Mustan Film Production present – “Machine.”

Produced by: Abbas Burmawala, Mustan Burmawala, Pranay Chokshi, Haresh Patel & Dhaval Jayantilal Gada

Directed by: Abbas-Mustan

Written by: Sanjeev Kaul

Music: Viju Shah, Tanishk Bagchi & Dr. Zeus

Starring: Kiara Advani, Eshan Shankar, Mustafa, Ronit Roy, Sharat Saxena, Kishori Shahane Vij, Carla Denis, Dalip Tahil, Johny Lever and others

This film meets the following classic Abbas-Mustan fare criteria:

It has two new faces – Abbas’ son Mustafa and in key supporting roles, Eshan Shankar and Carla Denis.

Two, it has twists and turns in the plot that leaves you surprised. For example, at the end of the first half, something happens where most of the audience is sure that the story to come will be akin to their 1993 blockbuster “Baazigar.” But knowing A-M, we know it will be something else. Because that’s what the audience will expect, see? And with them, it was always, “Expect the unexpected.”

Three, no character is sacred. Any one of them can turn out to be a negative one – hero, heroine, comedian, parent, supporting actor et al.

Four, there will be lavish sets, even more lavishly filmed songs, and breathtaking outdoor locations. And cars, thrills – the works!

Five, there will be regular Abbas-Mustan-eers – check Dalip Tahil, Sharat Saxena and Johny Lever here.

But here are the points where the film misses the A-M stamp, as in their best works – Khiladi,” “Baazigar,” “Ajnabee,” “Humraaz,” “Aitraaz,” “36 China Town,” “Race 2” – and (even) the relatively weaker “Race,” “Daraar” and “Naqaab.”

One, for the first time the A-M film has zilch face-value. Kiara Advani may have had a hit to her name in “M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story” but is no star. However, she gives a fairly competent performance, after some awkward beginnings. Mustafa does not look as if he is acting for the first time. Here and there an expression misses the mark, or is reprised too often and when not needed, but it’s a bravura first performance. Despite his unconventional looks, he shows promise.

Two, for the first time, the plot is too contrived, too illogical and too calculated. The twists seem to be put in for the sake of being added, for effect, even if it is at the expense of the story’s overall connect with the audience. The climax, where a man shot practically in the heart, travels to a location far away, says what he wants to say without a flinch and then actually jumps off a hill into the valley is ridiculous. The way the commando twin brother (Eshan Shankar in a dual role) of the heroine’s best friend gets footage of a staged accident is ludicrous to the extreme. Another new lesson: an army commando is as young as a college student despite years of training in the Army!

Three, the casting of the college students is slipshod, and the first half clumsy, almost boring and the character of the hero truly incredible in one aspect, which we cannot reveal. The Romeo and Juliet play is one long ordeal of irrelevance and a sheer waste of running time and resources. Yes, the film IS too long.

Four, unlike in A-M films, the comic character (of the Indian cop in Georgia here) is forced into the narrative, rather than seamlessly blended into the plot. Also, the character of Kriss Altar, a tycoon who funds races (Dalip Tahil) and the plot regarding him and his death, and his seductive but silly daughter Serena (Carla Dennis) are totally extraneous to the main plot in terms of logic.

Five, in most A-M films, the music composer generated largely hummable songs, irrespective of the movie’s genre, by talented and solo composer entities like Jatin-Lalit, Anu Malik, Himesh Reshammiya and Pritam.

The director duo got into the multi-composer racket from their last film “Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon” and continues that here, with catastrophically unoriginal and forgettable results. Viju Shah’s “Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast” (“Mohra”) is given a mediocre rehash and the R.D. Burman derivation from “Ek Chatur Naar” (“Padosan”) and the smart twist to Chhani Singh’s “Yalgaar” song “Aakhir Tumhein Aana Hai” in “Itna Tumhein” are not even acknowledged!

Six, for the first time since the humdrum “Players” (A-M’s weakest till now) in 2012, there was a sense of restiveness in the long-drawn second half despite all the convoluted twists.

Oh, we forgot we have not narrated the plot: Rich girl Sara (Advani) meets, is intrigued by and falls in love with racer-actor-student and mysterious Jack of all trades Ransh (Mustafa), and since he is an orphan, they get married with the blessings of her dad (Ronit Roy), whom he impresses. But on their honeymoon, Ransh pushes her off a cliff and pretends to be a grieving husband.

Dad is so upset he goes to a holy place seeking solace. Earlier, Sara’s best friend and another secret admirer are killed. In the second half, Sara recovers and decides to avenge herself. What’s the story then?

Potentially intelligent plots and premises needed to be intelligently handled as well. The ‘90s style camerawork, tacky VFX, even tackier dialogues and shoddy scripting should have been abandoned. The tagline states that the heart is the only machine that feels. And the audiences’ hearts are likely to feel disappointed – sorely disappointed. Abbas-Mustan end up being shoddy clones of themselves!

Rating: *1/2

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