Retrospective: Khakee

khakee.jpgA surprisingly entertaining production from industry veteran Raj Kumar Santoshi, Khakee (translated as Khaki, a reference to the color of the uniform worn by Indian police) stars Amitabh Bachchan as an aging police instructor Anant Kumar Shrivastav who is suddenly entrusted with leading a convoy to transport some criminals from Chandangarh to Mumbai for a court case. He's helped in this by a casanova young inspector (Akshay Kumar). The convoy soon runs into trouble on the return journey when a gang led by Ajay Devgan tries, by any means necessary, to stop them from reaching their destination. Aishwarya Rai also makes an appearance as a stranded motorist.

Several factors separate Khakee from a dance-by-numbers Bollywood production. First is the plot and character development: they exist! In particular, the film takes time to add detail to the lives of even the supporting characters and this helps greatly in building the tension that follows. Because there is a coherent narrative, we are better able to appreciate some of the subsequent twists and they do occur. Secondly, Amitabh Bachchan deftly combines both gravitas and levitas in his role, using his age to lend vulnerability to his character, but not afraid to poke fun at it. This is not the first time he's acknowledging his age (Baghban) but rarely has he done it with such elan (think Sean Connery in The Untouchables). Akshay Khanna too fits into his role with an easy charm. Ajay Devgan, venturing to the other side of the fence, does just fine as a scenery chewing villain as does Ms. Rai, as love interest/vamp. Finally, as this is old school Bollywood, we have to have songs and dances, but, as a measure of how times have changed, they are kept to a minimum and when they do occur, they play in abbreviated form. I particularly liked the shifting of the color palettes for "Dil Dooba." In addition, the songs are actually very catchy indeed - the heavily techno-ized "Aisa Jadoo" was a huge hit in India. So, overall, great entertainment, though things slow a little in the second half.

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- May 18, 2005 11:42 PM // Bollywood , Film , Review