Star cast: Emraan Hashmi, Neha Sharma, Arjan Bajwa, Mashoor Amrohi, Smilie Suri, Gulshan Grover, Kavin Dave.
Plot: Emraan comes to Australia from India with a fake passport. He falls in love with an Indian girl, Neha. But he also woos an Australian local, Shella Allen, so that he can marry her and get permanent residency. He is soon seized of the problem of racial discrimination by some locals there. Neha’s brother, Arjan, who hates Emraan, becomes a victim of the racist attacks. To seek revenge, Arjan kidnaps Shella. Does Emraan heed the pleas of his girlfriend, Neha, and take a stand against racism?
What’s Good: The music by Pritam.
What’s Bad: The poor screenplay; the overdose of English dialogues; the liberal use of Punjabi dialogues.
Verdict: The film will be rejected except, perhaps, in Punjab because of the hit ‘Chhalla India’ song rendered by a star Punjabi singer, and Punjabi dialogues.
Loo break: Anytime, more so in the first half.
Vishesh Films Pvt. Ltd.’s Crook (A) is the story of Jay Dixit a.k.a. Suraj Bharadwaj (Emraan Hashmi). Jay is only whiling away his time and indulging in all sorts of illegal activities in India and so his police officer-guardian (Gulshan Grover) sends him to Australia under a new identity,Suraj Bharadwaj. Jay is bitter about how the police had killed his smuggler-father when he was a child.
Once inAustralia, Suraj befriends Suhani (Neha Sharma) whose brother, Samarth (Arjan Bajwa), is very strict and over-protective. Suraj and Suhani soon fall in love. Samarth doesn’t approve of his sister’s proximity to Suraj and warns both of them. Meanwhile, in a bid to get permanent residency in Australia, Suraj befriends a local there – Nicole (Shella Allen) – and even has an affair with her in the hope that he would marry her, if only for attaining permanent residency.
Samarth and Suhani had a sister, Sheena (Smilie Suri), who had had an affair with an Australian boy. Samarth had been against the affair and had forced Sheena to abort the child she was carrying in her womb. Sheena had died on the operation table. It is revealed much later that Sheena’s Australian boyfriend was none other than Nicole’s brother, Russel (Francis Michael Chouler), who alongwith his Australian friends had gotten into indulging in acts of racial discrimination against Indians and Pakistanis in Australia.
Anyway, Suraj remains unaffected by the acts of racism even though he is witness to some of them. Romi (Kavin Dave), whom Samarth has chosen as groom for Suhani but whom Suhani doesn’t approve of, also becomes a victim of a racist attack by the Australians. Once he is out of hospital, the Australians target Samarth who is so brutally beaten up by them that he slips into a coma.
When Samarth comes out of the coma, he kidnaps Nicole to avenge his sister’s death as he holds her brother, Russel, responsible for Sheena’s untimely death. Suhani pleads with boyfriend Suraj to secure the release of Nicole from her brother’s custody before he can kill her. Here, Russel and his friends have captured Suhani in retaliation to the kidnap of Nicole.
Does Suraj step in to save Nicole whom he had used so blatantly? What happens to the growing racist attacks in Australia? What happens to Suhani and to Samarth? All these questions are answered in the climax.
Mohit Suri’s story deals with the issue of racist attacks on Asians in Australia but since the attacks made headline news only for a while not too long ago, they aren’t such a big issue that people would be keen to watch a film tackling the issue. But that is not the main point here. Even a film about racist attacks could’ve arrested people’s attention had an interesting screenplay been woven around the story but Ankur Tewari’s screenplay is weak, to say the least.
It is not clear whether the police officer-guardian of Jai is a noble soul or a crooked guy. From the look of it, the guardian seems to be a nice man but if that is so, why did he make a fake passport for Jai to send him to Australia? Being a conscientious police officer, he can’t be expected to indulge in such a criminal activity! Surely, there must’ve been other options to not let his father’s tarnished reputation follow Jai! Also, why did he ask Jai’s father to surrender? Did he or didn’t he know that the police would shoot him dead? If Samarth knew that his sister, Sheena, had died because of the abortion, how can he hold her Australian boyfriend responsible for the death? Agreed, the abortion was necessitated because of the boyfriend impregnating Sheena, but the real cause for the death was the abortion and not the pregnancy. Just because the audience is let into this ‘secret’ about Sheena’s demise later in the drama, it doesn’t mean that the facts would change. Suhani’s love story with Jai (Suraj) is not established. Suraj’s friends in Australia seem to be crazy kids with no sense of direction. Suraj being in love with Suhani and still sleeping around with Nicole doesn’t go down too well with the audience, especially because he is the main protagonist and the hero. Although Suraj/Jai mouths the dialogue that it is good to be bad, this philosophy doesn’t make sense to the audience as the writer has not been able to convince the viewer that being good could’ve proven to be detrimental to his interests.
It has not been explained why Samarth is against Suhani’s alliance with Suraj. The viewer gets the impression that Samarth was against Sheena’s liaison with an Australian, but if Suraj is not an Australian, why should Samarth have a problem with Suhani and he (Suraj) falling in love? The audience gets confused about Samarth’s characterisation because of the above: is he plain over-protective or is he just anti-Australians? If he is both (which is what is sought to be established), it is not the best way to write a screenplay because the audience gets confused by the duality.
The climax doesn’t work at all because writer Ankur Tewari blames Indians for the racist attacks on themselves. However noble may be the intention of the writer, the Indian audience will never feel happy about this part of the climax.
There’s another problem with the drama. While romance has not been established properly, the issue of racism also looks half-baked because not too much footage has been devoted to racist attacks on people other than Samarth, Suraj and Romi. In other words, the problem of racism has not been established to be as serious as it ought to have been made.
Perhaps, one of the biggest problems with the film is that a lot of the dialogues are spoken in English. Even though there are Hindi subtitles to explain them, the English dialogues will irritate the audience, especially in smaller cities and villages. Many dialogues are also in Punjabi, making the viewers wonder if they are watching a Hindi film! Also, why have all the characters been made to shout so much?
Emraan Hashmi does well, getting into the skin of his character. Neha Sharma makes a confident debut. She looks attractive and acts with ease. Arjun Bajwa leaves a mark. Mashoor Amrohi is okay in a role that’s not of much consequence. Kavin Dave does well. Smilie Suri is effective. Gulshan Grover gets limited scope but is nice. Shella Allen leaves a mark. Francis Michael Chouler is okay. Others lend the desired support.
Mohit Suri’s direction is good but the liberal use of English and Punjabi dialogues on the one hand and the half-baked and quite meaningless issue of racism tackled on the other will greatly limit the viewership of the film. Pritam’s music is very nice. ‘Chhalla India’ and ‘Kya sunaun main’ are the best of the lot. The other songs (‘Mere bina’ and ‘Tujhi mein’) are also appealing. Kumaar’s lyrics are fairly nice. Song picturisations (Rajiv Surti) should’ve been better. Ravi Walia’s camerawork is good. Foreign locales are quite eye-filling.
On the whole, Crook lacks the entertainment value and will prove to be a loser. It will not find acceptance with the public except, perhaps, in East Punjab circuit due to the hit ‘Chhalla India’ song sung by Punjab star Babu Maan and the presence of several Sardarjis (as Suraj’s friends) in Australia as also the failry liberal use of Punjabi in the dialogues.