Movie Review: AURANGZEB (2013)
Despite Bollywood’s international success and sheer volume of films that’s released by the industry every year, the quality of films and stories have always been a challenge. While most pander to the various trends that end up being prevalent at any given time in pop culture, others blatantly remake Hollywood hits. The most original stories and films are relegated to independent and art-house cinema that gets neither the recognition nor acclaim nationally that they deserve. But along comes a commercially mainstream film, from a new Director and an all-star cast, with a bang on original story. I give you my Review of AURANGZEB…
AURANGZEB takes a classic premise from Bollywood’s earlier days, the concept of long lost twins, and spins it on its head by completely moving away from the typical formula. Within the first 10 minutes of the film, the writer introduces all the major players with an amazing narration about a police dynasty that participates in criminal behavior in order to keep the peace, as well as setting up the rest of the film’s conflicts. Each character’s introduction is succinct and articulate and sets the tone of what the audience should expect of them from the rest of the movie
The film is narrated by Prithviraj Sukumaran’s Arya, who tells us about his powerful family of moral police officers, playing the part of pawns in a corrupt system, but choosing to get their hands dirty and playing the game for their own family’s financial prosperity. The family consists of the patriarch and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ravikant played by Rishi Kapoor, and his police officer sons. Arya is his nephew whom he’s taken under his wing after his honest brother, played by Anupam Kher was disgraced and kicked out of the Police Force for a scandal decades ago. Through a complicated series of events, this family finds the long lost twin son of one of the biggest crime bosses in the city. Their no brainer plan is now to groom the mild mannered and sheltered small town boy to replace his ferociously violent twin brother, to spy on the biological father he never knew he had. The movie veers off into multiple tangents from here, each that completely screw with the established perceptions of both storytelling and character motivations.
AURANGZEB doesn’t belong to any one actor, but rather a massive ensemble cast, each putting in standout performances in every scene. The main hero, if any, has to be the Writer/Director, Atul Sabharwal. Sabharwal writes the characters in such a way, that their personification by the actors is what pushes the story forward. Sabharwal also redirects the concepts of the typical pro/antagonist relationship as not to be as established as one may think. Arjun Kapoor, in his 2nd movie at the time, handles double duty as the twin brothers. His performance is decent for a newcomer, as he has to moonlight between soft-spoken Vishal and ruthless Ajay. The contrast in the characters is done amazingly by the novice actor.
Rishi Kapoor excels in a morally ambiguous role where he dominates the story with his constant needs to control everyone using his own rationale. Sukumaran is the surprise here, as a straight and narrow police officer that goes through the biggest emotional journey as events unfold in front of him. Jackie Shroff is a delight to watch on screen once again in a powerfully tragic role. The pacing of the story works greatly, with many twists and turns that constantly change the status quo of the characters. Despite a minor romantic angle, the film doesn’t waste time on unnecessary plot lines or filler material. AURANGZEB is one of the more brilliantly written, executed and performed films from the last few years, as it doesn’t rest on its laurels, but every scene builds on the momentum that is garnered with a strong start.