'Malang' Movie Review: Inconsistent but action-packed

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Entertainment Editor

Yahoo Movies Review: Malang

Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Disha Patani, Kunal Khemu, Anil Kapoor

Director: Mohit Suri

Rating: ***

I entered Mohit Suri’s ‘Malang’ with trepidation — having watched the trailer, I didn’t think I had the appetite for a gory revenge drama. But the payoff was worth the wait. 

This Aditya Roy Kapur and Disha Patani starrer begins like a typical action film: a tracking shot where a convict beats his rivals to a pulp. The tattooed, brawny protagonist looks invincible. His purpose seems predetermined — a brutal death for a chosen few. We don’t know the reason for the predicament that befalls his victims but from the onset there isn’t a shred of doubt that our male lead will eliminate his opponents.

Myriad characters find a place in this: the romantic leads played by Aditya and Disha, a coke-snorting vigilante cop (played remarkably by Anil Kapoor) and also a righteous cop (played by Kunal Khemu.)

Kapoor, as a trigger-happy policeman, believes in instant justice (a quick encounter) rather than wait for the law to take its course. Khemu, on the other hand, believes in due process. Despite the trouble in his married life, and having lost two of his close colleagues to violent murders, Khemu wants to play by the book.

Both the officers try to connect the crimes, decipher the next probable victim and apprehend the murderer. The narrative moves back and forth and unravels the plot that led to the present bloody happenings.

Single boy meets carefree NRI girl in Goa, the land of rave parties, drugs and adventures. Their pursuit of fun and freedom means chasing euphoria and living life from one high to another. Smoking up and popping a few pills is part and parcel of the life they choose to live as vagabonds. Adventure sports like sky diving and other indulgences satiate their quest for a regular head rush. But how do they finance their escapades? That remains a mystery. 

The first half of the film proceeds at an arduous pace as we try to piece together the mystery but the second half delivers unexpected twists. How does a cop cope with the death of a child and how does that impacts his perception of what is right and what is wrong? How does a tough cop, who feels emasculated in his marriage, unleash the beast within?

Unable to consummate his marriage, the thrill of a crime provides the carnal release he craves. Writer Aseem Arrora gives us a rare insight into the psyche of men who are defined by their troubled pasts.

Aditya Roy Kapur’s ripped body and boyish charm is an alluring mix. I do feel that the director did go a little overboard in trying to showcase our hero’s well sculpted torso — Aditya takes off his t-shirt/vest some ten times (I actually counted) in the first hour. Kapur competently portrays the angst of an anguished lover. Fortunately, Disha has not just been roped in for her bikini body. Her character is given some agency and she doesn’t appear like a mere prop in the bigger scheme of things. 

Anil Kapoor is immensely impactful as a police officer who is loud, obnoxious and reckless. But the real reveal is Kunal Khemu — he belts out a powerful performance as an intriguing character, who appears both vulnerable and sinister at the same time. 

The filmmaker show us two sides of Goa: a laid back haven for the hedonistic and the seedy underbelly where the use of drugs is rampant. Goa can be anything you want it to be. It can also become a spooky town with masked assailants who can blend into a crowd where locals and tourists merge and then they can vanish without a trace.

‘Malang’ isn’t flawless; like a typical Bollywood potboiler, it is replete with excesses. There’s a scene where our hero escapes unscathed during a shower of bullets. And there are many instances where thing just don’t seem to add up. But it still makes for an eminently watchable thriller. I loved that, for once, a Bollywood action film had carefully etched out characters and there was a perspective provided for why they became what they are. 

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