Director: Sanjay Gupta
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Yami Gautam, Ronit Roy, Rohit Roy
"Andhera andhere ko roshan nahin kar sakta," says the blind heroine in this film (Yami Gautam; such natural on-screen presence), to the blind hero (Hrithik Roshan) she's out on a coffee-date with. This is the part, ideally if you were at an old-world single screen cinema, you would hear a front-bench wit go, "Par Hrithik toh roshan kar sakta hai!" Yeah, there are a bunch of such one-liners in this movie.
The picture itself, as you would know from the promos, is about a blind couple. Sure, love is blind. The speed with which this beautiful looking couple goes from that coffee-date to a wedding proposal, signed and sealed, proves if two people can't see each other, love and affection can get on a blindingly fast track as well.
Such is however the demand of this story, central to which isn't a romance (although there's some of it), but an all-consuming thriller about crime (rape), and punishment (revenge). There's a minor twist by the minute. The lead couple, already visually impaired, is up against odds that are even further stacked up against them - caught as they are between municipal politicians (Rohit, Ronit Roy) and a bunch of thug Mumbai cops (Narendra Jha, Girish Kulkarni). The ensemble cast is top-rate.
One can imagine why the filmmakers would have picked up this dark, riveting drama. It's the kind of script (by Vijay Kumar Mishra) that, if being narrated to a room full of listeners, would have absolutely everyone guessing what happens next.
To top that, in a very Bollywood sense, there is a distinct mid or interval point. Soon after which the hero completely transforms himself to seek poetic justice. Yeah, it is the sort of story producer Rakesh Roshan has been attracted to, pretty much throughout his commercially successful directorial career ('Khoon Bhari Maang', 'Karan Arjun', 'Kaho Naa Payar Hai').
At the centre of it all is Hrithik as the blind man, with a hyperactive mind, but no obvious super-powers. So well, he is not 'Daredevil' (from the Netflix show) by any means. His character does have a heightened sense of smell, sound, geography, but that's probably true for most blind people.
In a passionately scripted career, Hrithik has attempted to push boundaries as an actor and play rather difficult characters, often dealing with human infirmities—paraplegic in 'Guzaarish' (possibly his most under-rated film), man-child ('Koi Mil Gaya') etc. He brings the same sort of skill and earnestness to the role of an under-stated yet raging blind man, who can surely dance, even if briefly, although the music isn't quite world-class.
Does the film itself live up to the expectations though? Well, that depends on your expectations. There is a lot of realism missing in what's supposed to be a gritty thriller. Locations seem semi-fake. In portions, the film itself appears slightly cold, and thoda sa plastic.
But if you were to keep your eyes glued to the screen and follow the blind man's graphite walking stick right down to the picture's climax, I'm fairly certain you won't be disappointed. Yeah, it is, for the most part, kaabil-e-tareef!