Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Randeep Hooda, Vipin Sharma, Elena Kazan, Shernaz Patel
Director: Ahishor Solomon
The Indian Express rating: *
The matter-of-factness with which brutal acts are interspersed through this film, and the zest with which they are carried out, made me think that this must be a copy of some Hollywood film. But the rest of it is weighed down with childhood angst in a very European fashion. So the discovery that John Daywas ripped off from a Spanish film isnt too much of a surprise. In Bollywood, we still dont do senseless violence with so much relentlessness. Our bad guys, in that sense, are still comic-book.
The gore is ratcheted up to screaming point in John Day characters get their body parts bitten off, with blood bubbling and frothing and arcing out of gashes; they are hit on the head with a hammer and burnt to a cinder and beaten to within an inch of their lives; and being slapped continuously is almost a game thwack, head goes left to right, thwack, repeat, thwack, repeat. I could hear shocked gasps around me, right through.
The trouble is not with the sight of so much flowing blood that looks horribly realistic (youd be surprised at how ketchupy some of the red stuff looks, still, in so many films). Or with female characters lying around in a state of post-coital disarray. The trouble is that there is no coherent plot to hang all of this on, its just a series of jumbled scenes with too many characters walking in and out, or limping in and out, or being shot at and huddling about in bloody heaps.
Shah plays harried bank manager John Day, with a wife (Patel) who has never recovered from the death of a beloved daughter. Hooda is a former cop who walks on the dark side, whose only real companion is his alcoholic girl friend (Kazan), and who is helped in his nefarious purposes by a colleague (Sharma). In between, there are rain-soaked burials in graveyards, drunken louts with information, mobsters in skull caps, ministers on the take, scribes who sell out, and so on. And at the heart of this convoluted tale is a sprawling piece of real estate, which is the prize everyone is after. When John Day begins, it is reasonably pacy and keeps up the suspense.
You want to know what or who is behind all these rapid developments ― banks being robbed, defenceless women being clubbed on the head, brooding cops channeling their lousy past through hooded eyes and hard hands. It soon crumbles into a mess, and the actors, which include Shah, Hooda and the excellent Sharma, are pretty much left to flounder. And you want to tell newbie directors that that schtick with the guy tied up in a chair in the middle of a barn-sized shed being tortured
Tarantino got there before they did. Much before.