Rating: 3.5 stars (Three n Half stars)
Director: Ranjit Tiwari
Lucknow Central is an engaging thriller, which makes a brave attempt to penetrate the politics of prison life without relinquishing the right to engage us in a solid storytelling spree. The cat-and-mouse game is played out between a sadistic jailer (Ronit Roy, in top form) and a non-guilty prisoner (Farhan Akhtar) who is bent on getting his liberty at any cost.
The film starts off with a day in the life of the Moradabad based Kishan Mohan Girhotra (Farhan Akhtar). In order to achieve his dream of forming a band, he even records a demo CD in order to hand it over to a topmost singer (played by Manoj Tiwari, in a cameo), but, his efforts go in total vain. One day, out of the blue, cops arrest him and put him in Lucknow Central jail on the charges of murdering an IAS officer. Even in the jail, the restless Kishan yearns of forming his own band. On the occasion of Independence Day, Minister Pawan Singh Chaturvedi (Ravi Kishan) decides to have an inter-jail music competition.
Even though Kishan faces stiff opposition and resistance from Raja Shrivastava (Ronit Roy), help and confidence come in the form of NGO activist Gayatri Kashyap (Diana Penty). The inmates who form Kishan’s band members include Parminder Gill (Gippy Grewal), Victor Chattopadhyay (Deepak Dobriyal), Purushottam Madan Pandit (Rajesh Sharma) and Dikkat Ansari (Inaamulhaq). It is during the band’s practice that Kishan reveals the master plan of doing a jailbreak on the D-Day. But, when the moment arrives, all of them back out. What’s the reason for them to refuse freedom, do they get caught by the ruthless Raja Shrivastav or do they have a change of heart and what ultimately happens to their band and their lives is what forms the rest of the film.
STAR PERFORMANCE :-
Farhan Akhtar plays Kishen as a dreamer-musician coping with a crisis beyond his comprehension but determined to slum it out even if it means breaking some laws. This is his bravest, most soul-baring performance to date. Scenes of his breakdown in solitary confinement will remain with us long after the last episode of Prison Break is over. Talent like Rajesh Sharma, Imaanulhaq and Deepak Dobriyal usually never let a film down. Here they have so much meat to chew on, it is feast of fury for them. As Akhtar’s band, they are seasoned troupers in a particularly inspired environment. And Gippy Garewal adds flavour when joins them as a Sardar ji pining for his sweetheart singing soul-penetrating songs of separation. Diana Penty, on the other hand, is super confident in her role of an NGO activist. Her confrontations with Ronit Roy are really well shot. Speaking of Ronit Roy, even though he looks convincingly menacing, one cannot deny the fact that we have seen him doing the same kind of roles in many films before. Ravi Kishan as the ‘supercool cum calm minded cum sarcastic’ minister is really lovable and remarkable. Rest of the actors help the film move forward.
Music & Direction :
Ranjit Tiwari makes an extremely promising debut as a director in Bollywood. While he tries his best to establish the film’s premise and all the characters in the first half itself, there are many places where the film seems to revolve and rotate on a single track and takes too long to arrive at a point. This could have been grossly avoided. The second half turns out to be a treat to watch. No sooner the film finds its ground, it gathers pace which continues till the end. With Lucknow Central, Ranjit Tiwari announces his arrival in Bollywood as one of the names to watch out for.
As for the music of the film, barring a couple of songs like the impressive ‘Teen Kabootar’ and ‘Kaavaan Kaavaan’, the film does not have any memorable songs. The film’s background score is commendable.
Last words :
An ongoing sense of inclusiveness runs through the film. We feel so much part of the goings-on that we cry, laugh, sing and dance with Kishen and his four band members. Their Kabootar song in the prison compound is arguably the best choreographed dance number seen in a Hindi film in recent times. It looks so unrehearsed, so spontaneous…. just like the film where the characters probably existed long before the writer and director thought about them. We just didn’t know or care.