Reviewing the Reviews: Ghanchakkar fails to spin

01 Jul,2013


Key Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Vidya Balan

Written By: Parvez Sheikh, Raj Kumar Gupta

Directed By: Raj Kumar Gupta

Produced By: Ronnie Screwvala, Siddharth Roy Kapur


So much promotion – Emraan Hashmi in red polka-dotted ‘night-suit’ and Vidya Balan in ghastly Lokhandwala costumes went everywhere. They must have believed in the film to do this, but critics were not so impressed. More so because director Raj Kumar Gupta’s earlier films, Aamir and No One Killed Jessica were such zingers.


Mostly 2 or 2.5 stars, and a common refrain… starts off well and goes downhill.


Shubhra Gupta of The Indian Express quipped, “Horny woman who doesn’t bother hiding it plus dour man with a secret, has the potential to be a humdinger. Ghanchakkar sets up trying-to-go-straight safe-breaker Sanju, and his blowsy trying-to-be fashion-forward wife Neetu, and a couple of rogues, around a bank heist, and lets them loose. This could have been a hoot, but the execution lets down the premise, and the film remains one of those that could have been edgier and funnier.”


Rajeev Masand of sounded almost disgusted. “The mystery in Ghanchakkar involves the whereabouts of a suitcase containing stolen cash. Yet, a harder puzzle to crack is figuring out just how so many talented people could make such a disappointing film. No One Killed Jessica director Raj Kumar Gupta recruits a competent cast, but flounders with a half-cooked script that doesn’t know where to go after setting up its delicious premise.


Karan Anshuman of Mumbai Mirror wrote, “Gupta paints himself into a corner with no out and ends up botching the third act. He meanders, wastes time visualizing the obvious, and refuses to get a move on by throwing in situation after situation that only serve to widen, not propel the premise. Perhaps he could’ve started with more characters to play with rather than the four we’re focused on, for the majority of the time based in one apartment. Sure, Gupta eventually takes the story to a place you don’t expect, but is this a satisfying end? I didn’t think so. Because this entire construct, this choice of subject, hinges more on the destination rather than the journey, the sense of loss is even greater. And if there’s a deeper layer to this film, I’m missing it.”


Raja Sen of commented, “The finest, most fascinating mysteries are the ones where we find the red herrings stashed away in plain sight all along. In Raj Kumar Gupta’s Ghanchakkar, the true clue to the proceedings is barely hidden. It’s in the song playing in every trailer, the song over the opening credits of the film: it’s fiendishly smart to say Lazy Lad and make us assume the filmmakers are talking about the protagonist when in reality they mean the screenwriter. For this is a confoundingly half-written film. What is exasperating is how good it is right up to the third act, right up to the point when the people plotting this clever and twisty story decided not to type out any more ideas and let the film remain an almighty mess.”


Nandini Ramnath of Live Mint sagely commented, “It helps to keep expectations low while watching Ghanchakkar, which isn’t as madcap as the title promises. Gupta opts for a mix of deadpan and mental, slowing down the movie ever so often to let a joke play out, and then speeding it up in order to reach the next humour zone.”


Saibal Chatterjee of ranted, “The odd-couple pairing of Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan apart, this madcap whirligig has little on offer by way of innate allure. The fundamental concept of Ghanchakkar is intriguing all right, but it simply isn’t sturdy enough to bear the weight of an entire two hour-plus film. It presses a 1980s plot device into the service of what is meant to be a new age comic thriller and inevitably comes a cropper. Three guys pull off a bank heist, one of the robbers suffers a memory loss, and the booty goes missing. The pace of this black comedy is so somnolent that all the characters, and not just the ‘lazy lad’ of the film’s quirky opening song, appear to be sleepwalking through it all. What makes the film worse is that none of the handful of players is a rounded figure that the audience can relate to.This film about a man’s lost yaadasht and the complications that it sparks off seems destined to be quickly forgotten.”


Aniruddha Guha of Time Out wrote,”Ghanchakkar’s best moments come in the latter half, when a bewildered Sanju (Emraan Hashmi) struggles to fathom everything that’s going wrong in his life. He can’t remember where he left a suitcase full of cash, two men threaten to end his life, and he’s unsure about where his wife’s loyalties lie. He runs helter-skelter, trying to piece together fragmented memories, waiting for a clear picture to emerge. These moments, shot on the streets of Mumbai, remind you of director Rajkumar Gupta’s first film, Aamir, which also involved a harrowed man and a suitcase.”


Meena Iyer of The Times of India tried to be kind with 3 stars, but it doesn’t quite reflect in the review. “Director Raj Kumar Gupta is an ‘inspired’ writer/filmmaker. He draws liberally either from other cinematic material or from headlines. His first film Aamir had many similarities to the Filipino film Cavite. His No One Killed Jessica was quite obviously taken from the Jessica Lal murder case. In his third movie outing, Ghanchakkar, the director is ‘inspired’ by innumerable Hollywood and UK black humour flicks.”


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