Reviewing the Reviews: Shootout At Wadala

06 May,2013

Shootout At Wadala

Key Cast: John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Kangna Ranaut, Manoj Bajpai, Sonu Sood

Directed By: Sanjay Gupta

Written By: Sanjay Gupta, Hussain Zaidi

Produced By: Sanjay Gupta, Anuradha Gupta, Ekta Kapoor, Shobha Kapoor


Filmmakers like Sanjay Gupta do not grow up and give up their laddish fascination for gangsters. It allows them to attract crowds, shoot with a kind of macho swagger and also pretend it’s all real.


Shootout At Wadala is supposedly a fact-fiction khichdi on the life gangster Manya Surve, whose planned killing put the word encounter into the cop and media lexicon. Which means, Gupta can drop unexciting facts (like John Abraham bearing no resemblance to Surve) and add as much fiction as he likes (Surve was not framed by a cop). Plus three item numbers and loads of violence.


Most critics pointed to gangster fatigue – there have been just too many films of the same kind. So this one got mostly 2.5, some 3 and a couple of fawning 4 stars too.


Rajeev Masand of commented “…while the story is rooted in Manya Surve’s journey from an innocent, bright college student to one of the city’s most powerful mafia dons, Shootout at Wadala is a potpourri of stomach-churning slashing and shooting, writhing item girls, and lewd dialogue. In fact, Gupta infuses so much violence and sex into this tale that it hits the G-Spot – and by this, I mean, gratuitous. The director has no qualms pandering to the lowest common denominator; inserting item songs at will, peppering his actors’ lines with cusswords, filming bump-and-grind lovemaking sequences, and even throwing in a titillatingly-shot rape scene.”


Shubhra Gupta of the Indian Expess, wrote, “Why would I want to watch yet another retro-gangster flick? Because I’m a sucker for gritty gangsters and sharp cops. Because I like the bang-bang stuff, when done well. And because there’s nothing as cool as retro, in the right hands. Shootout At Wadala gives us a bunch of gangsters and cops, all trying very hard for coolth. It has action, some of it explosive, but not madly new. What stops it from becoming the film that it could have is an avalanche of dialogue, the sort of smart-alecky lines that sounded so right in the 70s. In 2013, they seem like a tired device to hang an entire film on. And the fact that this genre is now feeling the weight of having been trod upon too often.”

Sanjukta Sharma of The Mint was left cold. “Some things do not change. Director Sanjay Gupta’s every action sequence is shot in slow motion. Every entry of a new character is in slow motion. Bits of the three item numbers in the film-yes, three-are in slow motion. A loose, directionless script and insipid dialogues (Manya and his men are often engaged in long conversations about the female anatomy) take their toll half an hour into the film. Abraham tries very hard to play a brooding, ruthless gangster but the character does not engage. The bad writing, of course, does not help. Bajpai is predictably good in his dialogue-baazi; so is Sood. As far as borrowed scenes go, Shootout at Wadala has the most unimaginative copy of a scene previously borrowed or alluded to by film-makers: the assassination of Sonny Corleone at the toll plaza.”


Karan Anshuman of Mumbai Mirror wrote, “So you have no grand design save for a feeble attempt to stick to the plot of Hussain Zaidi’s Dongri to Dubai, the book SaW is based on; a haphazard story with too many elements and no focus (John Abraham vanishes for long periods and Sonu Sood gets an incongruous amount of footage); and a film that ultimately says nothing (though you might learn a curse or two). The actual shootout – the only bit that commands your attention – is perhaps five minutes long and comes at the very end of a protracted 2.5 hours.”


Shakti Shetty of Mid-day commented, “There has been no dearth of gangster films in Hindi cinema. But it’s one of those genres that never goes out of fashion. The underworld and the legends related to it make for an interesting yarn provided the novelty is maintained. However, Shootout at Wadala takes the middle path by trying to strike a balance between recorded history and fictionalised events. In the process, it showcases personalities on both sides of the law belonging to a bloody era. In retrospect, there are moments when it manages brilliantly and there are instances where it falls flat.”
Mathures Paul of The Telegraph sneered, “The wannabe baap of Mumbai, Manya Surve (John Abraham), is all huff-puff and no brains. But a thali of guns, profanity and sleaze cannot go all wrong, especially when more than a 1,000 rounds of ammo are wasted, spaced out by three item numbers and a few sex-bench push-ups.”


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