Aurangzeb Movie Review by Taran Adarsh

Bollywood’s fascination with dual roles dates back to its golden era, when Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor reigned supreme. Recall HUM DONO [Dev Anand], RAM AUR SHYAM [Dilip Kumar], DO KALIYAN [Neetu Singh], ARADHANA [Rajesh Khanna], SEETA AUR GEETA [Hema Malini], MAUSAM [Sharmila Tagore], DON [Amitabh Bachchan], AAKHREE RAASTA [Amitabh Bachchan], CHAALBAAZ [Sridevi], KISHEN KANHAIYA [Anil Kapoor], JUDWAA [Salman Khan], KAHO NAA… PYAAR HAI [Hrithik Roshan], DON [Shah Rukh Khan], ROWDY RATHORE [Akshay Kumar]… the protagonist in those movies left an indelible impression on cineastes. Now Arjun Kapoor gets to portray a double role very early in his career… in his second film itself — AURANGZEB.

Rumors are rife that AURANGZEB is the present-day version of Yash Chopra’s immensely likable TRISHUL. With modifications of course, to suit the present-day sensibilities. Much earlier, when YRF unveiled the promo of the film, the comparisons with Chandra Barot’s DON had gathered momentum. So what’s the truth? Well, AURANGZEB does bring back memories of TRISHUL as well as DON, but the premise, setting and execution are poles apart.

AURANGZEB, a crime drama, focuses on the land mafia and the enmity between two authoritative factions: Police and mafia. The film marks the big screen debut of Atul Sabharwal, who directed a crime show [POWDER] for Yash Raj’s television unit. The director knows the technicalities right, but he falters — and falters big time — in narrating a gripping story in a concise format. Resultantly, the film tests the patience of the spectator in the second hour and the impact of several brilliant moments gets washed away in the process.

A family of policemen… A family of gangsters… Under the guise of a respected citizen, Yashwardhan [Jackie Shroff], runs a parallel world, a world where he is the Emperor. To bring down a criminal, the law will have to now think like a criminal! When Vishal [Arjun Kapoor] is planted in Yashwardhan’s world in place of Ajay [Arjun Kapoor], the lawmakers [Rishi Kapoor and Prithviraj] roll the dice and a sequence of events unravel something much more than what Vishal bargained for, as he finds himself in a predicament that puts him to test!

AURANGZEB catches your eye initially. There are numerous characters in this cat and mouse saga and the storytelling, although slow-paced, keeps the spectator glued to the proceedings. Atul, who has also penned the screenplay, focuses on drama more than action/violence and the back story of the prominent characters as well as the menacing games they indulge in results in an invigorating first hour. Atul makes sure he packages the narrative well with moments that, although predictable at times, stay with you.

Like most Hindi movies, AURANGZEB suffers from the curse of the second hour syndrome, for the film languishes and fumbles soon after the intermission. There are too many issues, frankly. First and foremost, the drama loses sheen as it proceeds. Two, the drama seems never-ending and with too many characters and too many things happening in the movie, what comes across is a hodgepodge. Even the culmination fails to give you a high. Adding to the woes is its lethargic pacing!

To give the credit where it’s due, Atul handles the dramatic moments adroitly, but the effort to cram too many characters and episodes in the screenplay hits the second hour of the film hard. Dialogue, so crucial in a film that has drama as its core selling point, is punch-packed at times, but commonplace otherwise. There’s no scope for music here and the absence of a popular score too is a deterrent. The film is well shot, with the DoP [N. Karthik Ganesh] filming the outdoors with flourish.

Rishi Kapoor is the lifeline of the enterprise. He charms his way into the spectator’s minds with a spectacular performance. It’s a delight to watch Jackie Shroff and Amrita Singh, a popular pair of the 1980s, after a hiatus in dominant parts. Jackie excels in his role, although he is sidelined subsequently. Amrita is super in a role that demands a scheming and manipulating woman.

Arjun Kapoor, who impressed critics and moviegoers alike in his debut film, gets to portray dual roles. The wild child is reminiscent of the part he portrayed in ISHAQZAADE, but the second role is sober and subdued. The youngster attempts to balance the dissimilar parts deftly, but falters in emotional moments. Newcomer Sasheh Agha gets to depict several bold scenes in her debut film and the newcomer seems quite comfortable and confident doing those.

Prithviraj, who debuted on the Hindi screen with AIYYAA, gets a meatier part this time, but the challenge lies in convincing the spectator that he looks his part of a North Indian. It’s evident that the talented actor has polished his diction and speaks his lines effortlessly. Otherwise too, his performance is effectual. Deepti Naval is wasted. Ditto for Anupam Kher. Tanvi Azmi is efficient. Swara Bhaskar is limited to a few scenes. Sikander Berry doesn’t get much scope.

On the whole, AURANGZEB has a great premise, but great plots don’t, generally, translate into great films. This one’s way too lengthy and mediocre [second hour] to leave any kind of an impression whatsoever. Disappointing!

Rating: Two Stars.

  1. Author
    aryan 10 years ago

    Public Reviews are very good but I can’t understand why Taran Adarsh given only 2 stars for this movie.

  2. Author
    aryan 10 years ago

    Review By Sukanya Verma

    Aurangzeb is primarily about inheritance of character from parent to child. And the opening underlines this theme with a quote from Roman poet Horace, ‘Deep in the cavern of the infant’s breast; the father’s nature lurks, and lives anew.’

    What lends its sentimentality a crooked twist is how its premise is relentlessly influenced by the cutthroat philosophy of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Director Atul Sabharwal tackles the conflicting interests of conscience and conditioning with his robustly executed first film for Yash Raj.

    Against the relevant backdrop of land-grabbing in Gurgaon and its deep-rooted network within corporate sectors, political parties and corrupt law and order, Sabharwal weaves an old-fashioned yarn about family — both close-knit and estranged.

    On one hand there’s a family of cops — Ravikant (Rishi Kapoor [ Images ]), his nephew Arya (Prithviraj Sukumaran) and son Dev (Sikander Kher). The stern, resentful Arya models himself along the lines of the supremely assertive Ravikant as opposed to his long disgraced, defeated father (Anupam Kher [ Images ]).

    Meanwhile, Yashwardhan (Jackie Shroff [ Images ]) is a successful tycoon running illegal industries, masked under the impression of his authorised businesses, assisted by the sharp Neena (Amrita Singh [ Images ]). He has given up on making sense of his brash son, Ajay (Arjun Kapoor), the proverbial cad whiling away his time partying with/beating up his annoyingly compliant girlfriend, Ritu (Sasheh Agha).
    Click here!

    Light-eyed Agha, no matter how much (and frequently) she exposes, cannot distract the viewer from her serious lack of talent and feeble screen presence. Her so-called intense scenes with Kapoor are plain comical and completely dampen the screenplay. She fares better in the recording studio though with her spunky rendition of Barbaadiyan.

    But this is only maybe five minutes of Aurangzeb, which starts off a tad synthetic with dialogues sounding like quotation books instead of conversation.

    The real discord begins after Arya discovers Ajay’s lookalike, Vishal (Kapoor) and plants him in Ajay’s place to collect evidence against Yashwardhan in the backdrop of Gurgaon’s glossy landscapes (with surreal shots of its bokeh-lit traffic by N Karthik Ganesh).

    There’s a dramatic twist here ( which I am obviously not going to reveal) that ensures Aurangzeb doesn’t draw too many comparisons from the likes of The Departed, The Devil’s Double or even Don. (Though there is moment that squeals Skyfall whereas the background score is reminiscent of The Dark Knight [ Images ] Rises.)

    Deeply derivative of the traditional Hindi film narrative where blood-ties gain precedence over individual turbulence, Aurangzeb works even in its inept form. Because, one, Sabharwal constructs a compelling, intricate conspiracy of deceit and motive around predominantly grey characters, where chances are anyone can turn a volte face, for better or worse.

    And because Aurangzeb’s momentum is steady and swift, the loopholes are skilfully minimised even if only temporarily. So, sure, you do wonder about the loosely established relationships, convenient set-ups and undisclosed footage of significant reactions, but much later.

    Interestingly, Aurangzeb doesn’t demonstrate any depth to examine the impact of role-playing, and change in circumstances on Arjun Kapoor’s psyche but both — Prithviraj (by way of voiceover that offers a constant peek into his thoughts) and Rishi Kapoor (his candid conversation with Deepti Naval [ Images ] showing his innermost anxieties to his frighteningly supportive partner) — emerge as the more fleshed-out characters of this stylish drama.

    This brings us to the second and most stealing aspect of Aurangzeb — its casting (Shanoo Sharma). Prithviraj Sukumaran’s clean-cut persona stands out in a role that demands subtle cynicism, restrained force, suppressed emotionality and dry humour.

    Rishi Kapoor is at the top of his game and inspires awe through the stunning curve he draws within the story. To rave any more could lead to revelations that are best enjoyed on one’s own.

    The other Kapoor, Arjun shows remarkable poise and volume in his second film and first double role in the company of stalwarts. Though it could have been a far better written part, especially Ajay, he consciously maintains a distinction between the twain.

    It’s also great to see Jackie Shroff render the proceedings his characteristic charisma, warmth and grit in a somewhat neglected role.

    None of the senior girls — Amrita Singh, Deepti Naval and Tanvi Azmi — are moulded in pure convention and make a statement with their fiercely kohl-ed eyes and sturdy point of views. Sadly, in the case of their junior colleagues, Agha doesn’t have the potential while Swara Bhaskar isn’t given enough scope to bite.

    Whether all kids inherit their parents’ moral temperament I do not know but where Bollywood is concerned, its conditioning on filmmakers is undeniable. And going by what the inspired but engaging Aurangzeb has to offer, it’s not such a bad thing.

    Rating: Three Stars.

Leave a reply

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?