Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Rohan Mehra, Radhika Apte, Chitrangada Singh
Direction: Gauravv K Chawla
Debutant director Gauravv K Chawla’s ‘Baazaar’ boasts of some nuanced acting by Saif Ali Khan, but is let down by a predictable plot and tedious narrative. Beyond a point, it becomes difficult to stay invested in this stock trading saga with an overload of business jargon.
A small-town boy from Allahabad, Rizwan Ahmed (Rohan Mehra) is a stockbroker who wants to make it big in the city of dreams, Mumbai. Driven by ambition and possessed of a keen business acumen, he lands in Maximum City and wants to work with his hero, Shakun Kothari (Saif Ali Khan). Kothari, once a small-town Gujju boy from Surat, is now a big player known to bend the rules to maximize profits. Their association and how Rizwan eventually becomes a pawn in the bigger scheme of things are at the core of this fiscal thriller.
The late Vinod Mehra’s son, Rohan Mehra makes debuts on the big screen with this film. He comes across as sincere as the boy who wants it all. Once he gets noticed by Kothari, he is soon seen basking in the glory of his new-found success and the perks of big city life – a new home in a skyscraper, the good life with a girlfriend and umpteen social dos.
He seems completely oblivious to the notion that all this might soon come crashing down.
The omnipresent Radhika Apte serves as Rizwan’s love interest. A capable stockbroker herself, she seems to have an insight into mergers and deals and is everready to chip in with ‘insider information’. We wonder at times why this very ambitious girl hasn’t used it to her own advantage and instead is so ready to share it with a newcomer.
Apte is effective, but her style comes across as repetitive. This may well be case of mild overkill – considering she has been simply too visible of late.
Saif as the Gujju bhai with the shrewd baniya buddhi charms us with a layered portrayal. He is unapologetic about the means through which he meets his business ends. He hates being called a fraud because he exposes how all the other players have used unfair means to further their own cases.
As the manipulative businessman he is deceitful yet charming. You hate his methods but you also realise, that they – the trade sharks – are all painted with the same black brush.
‘Baazaar’ builds up quite well with the key players belting out convincing performances, but it falters in the second half. The thrills wane and you are left with a tepid tale that fails to keep you consistently engaged. It feels too long and too indulgent as it delves deep into the world of stock trading. The net effect, thus, is neither bullish nor bearish.