Starring: Sanjay Dutt, Suniel Shetty, Arbaaz Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Vivek Oberoi, Tusshar Kapoor, Rohit Roy, Shabbir Ahluwalia, Aditya Lakhia, Amrita Singh, Dia Mirza, Aarti Chhabria and Neha Dhupia
Director: Apoorva Lakhia
In the recent past, we have seen several Bollywood films based on the underworld such as Company, Kaante, Musafir,and Plan but none of these, as far as we know, have been based on true life incidents. That’s the first thing that sets apart Shootout at Lokhandwala from the above mentioned films, since it is based on a real life encounter between cops and gangsters that took place in Mumbai 16 years ago.
Apoorva Lakhia’s previous projects ‘Mumbai se aaya mera dost’ and ‘Ek Ajnabee’ have not really created waves at the box office even though the latter was technically quite sound, but with Shootout, Lakhia has shown tremendous growth as a director and it is apparent in the film. This multi-starrer is gripping, chilling, real, violent and gruesome.
Shootout at Lokhandwala is a story based on a high profile shocking incident which took place in a residential locality of Mumbai in November 1991 when a team of police officers led by ACP S.S.Khan (Sanjay Dutt) chased and gunned down five members of dreaded underworld don Maya Dolas’ (Vivek Oberoi) gang.
ACP S.S Khan along with his aides, Inspector Kaviraj Patil (Suniel Shetty) and Inspector Javed Shaikh (Arbaaz Khan) dared to take on the gangsters on a calm summer day and suddenly turned the busy Lokhandwala complex into a battlefield when 1755 bullets were shot in just six hours in the history of all encounters.
The first half of the film moves to and fro between present day and flashbacks and shows us how Maya Dolas rose to power between 1987-1991, joined hands with sharp shooter Dilip Buwa (Tusshar Kapoor) and formed his own gang, going against his mentor Dawood Ibrahim. This was a bit confusing at times as it seemed a bit too much to take everything in all at once. However, the second half more than makes up for it as focus shifts to the actual shootout and keeps the audience on the edge of their seat. The post-interval portions are thrilling and intriguing causing you to wonder what will happen next.
A few scenes that stand out are the flashback which takes you to one of ACP S.S Khan’s previous operations, the scene just before the interval where we see Khan and Dolas come face to face and the dialogue that unfolds. Also, towards the climax, the sequence when Fatim/Fattu (Rohit Roy), Buwa, and Maya speak to their loved ones for the final time on the phone makes you extremely emotional and you surprisingly feel sorry for these cold-hearted gangsters.
Cinematography and editing of the film are first-rate. The action scenes have been brilliantly executed and send chills down your spine. It surely looks like our director knows his craft very well!
On the downside, although the three songs (‘Unke Nashe Mein’, ‘Mere Yaar’ and ‘Ganpat’) are excellent and are choreographed and picturized very well, they don’t seem to fit in and almost randomly pop out of nowhere. Another factor that may be a barrier to watching this film is the raw violence. Some scenes are quite terrible to watch so it really depends from individual to individual. I’m sure today’s audience is intelligent enough to know that the violence shown is integral to the plot and hence, is fully justified. I mean, with a word like ‘Shootout’ as part of its main title, you can’t really expect candy-floss entertainment can you?
The strongest part of this film are the performances. The entire star cast, no matter what the length of their role, has delivered power-packed performances and that alone, makes it worth your ticket.
Let’s start with the cops i.e. Sanjay Dutt and company.
Sanjay Dutt is phenomenal! After playing the funny and lovable Munnabhai in Munnabhai M.B.B.S and Lage Raho Munnabhai, he now plays the role of a serious policeman who is determined to attain his goal of wiping out the gangsters. He most definitely leaves an impact on us.
Suniel Shetty and Arbaaz Khan are both wonderful and provide a little comic relief to this otherwise intense movie. That doesn’t mean that they play funny characters, it’s just that they have a few light dialogues.
Amitabh Bachchan, who plays Advocate Dingra, is splendid and leaves you asking for more of his powerful performance. His dialogue delivery is fantastic. Watch out for him in the last court scene when he asks the judge just one question.
Abhishek Bachchan in a special appearance plays the character of Inspector Abhishek Mathre. Despite of having only a seven and a half minute role, he is sufficient. However, his presence wasn’t really necessary.
An appearance by A.A.Khan (who led the actual shootout in 1991) just adds to the realism of Shootout at Lokhandwala and he plays the part of Commissioner of Police S.Ramamurthy nicely. Akhilendra Mishra is quite good.
Moving onto the people on the wrong side of the law – Vivek Oberoi and gang.
Vivek Oberoi is back in form and gives a solid performance! His depiction of stone-hearted Maya Dolas who is fearless and kills without thinking twice is exceptional. Oberoi manages to set that fear in you and show you that Maya uses fear as a tool to leverage. His death sequence is brutally fabulous. His body language and expressions are amazing and you can tell that he’s done a lot of research on his character. To sum it up, Vivek’s delivered an out and out knockout performance!
Tusshar Kapoor is very impressive and surprises you with his brilliant portrayal of Buwa. So does Rohit Roy as Fattu, even though he is not as impactful as Tusshar.
Shabbir Ahluwalia and Aditya Lakhia are alright although they hardly have a role especially the latter.
Coming to the girls, Dia Mirza is effective, playing a young opinionated reporter. Aarti Chhabria and Neha Dhupia are just about okay. Amrita Singh, who plays Vivek’s mother in the film, is the best of the lot.
Overall, Shootout at Lokhandwala is engrossing and will have mass appeal. The violence maybe a hindrance for a certain section of society, and to people who are not used to watching such raw action, but nevertheless, the movie should get a fantastic start thanks to the large star cast and it is certainly worth watching for its mindblowing performances and well-executed action sequences.