Star cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Randeep Hooda, Vipin Sharma, Sharat Saxena, Makrand Deshpande, Bharat Dabolkar, Ananth Mahadevan, Shernaz Patel, Elena Kazan.
Director: Ahishor Solomon
What’s Good: A unique narrative style, thrilling locales and Naseeruddin Shah.
What’s Bad: Everything everything else.
Loo break: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Watch or Not?: Ahishor Solomon’s John Day is an absolute disaster zone despite a promising style of storytelling. Roughly lifted from the 2002 Spanish flick, La Caja 507, the film is tediously monotonous and so insipid that it will seem like a never ending torture that’s inflicted on you. The thrilling story goes haywire as the screenplay fails to cement its fiber. A few dialogues are aplomb but the frustrating show is so exhausting that you might spare yourself this horror film.
The film begins with a young girl lying to her father, goes off on a vacation to an abandoned estate with her boyfriend. The girl dies and even two years later her mother (Shernaz Patel) is haunted by the nightmares of her death.
John Day (Naseeruddin Shah), a bank manager tries to cheer his wife up but their lives go haywire after there is a robbery in his bank and his wife is assaulted by the goons so much so that she slips into coma. Parallely running is the track of a corrupt cop Gautam (Randeep Hooda) who works for the mafia. The stories intersect when Gautam hears about the robbery and tries to procure the papers of a certain Casablanca estate, the same place where John’s daughter died. Is there a link? And what happens when these stories converge is what John Day is all about.
John Day Review: Script Analysis
The film’s setting has a blazing eloquent feel but the script and the screenplay muddle it. At the outset itself, the film is a bad copy of a Spanish film. As the film advances, the story becomes more and more hard to find as you will constantly find yourself compelled to question where is awkwardly set narrative heading. What are the actors chasing? I don’t know. There are fleeting references to terms like Casablanca Estate, but you can easily fall asleep for the next 2 hours, only to wake up and find the story hasn’t advanced an inch. The ending is almost known and yet put together so unrelentingly unimaginatively. A revenge hungry father of a daughter who died mysteriously goes on a slay spree, as he hunts down those behind his daughter’s death. He transcends from being a God-fearing simpleton to a robust avenger in a matter of minutes but the starkness of the show is so awfully dull that you cannot keep your eyes pierced on screen despite a few laudable points and performances.
There are a few scenes oozing violence that will have you scarred. In a scene Randeep Hooda kisses a man only to bite his tongue off. While this may arise serious doubts over his sexual orientation which is irrelevant but the grotesque scene got me quite close to throwing up. In another scene Naseeruddin Shah bites off a man’s neck in an attempt to save himself! Such alarming instances are not just merely shocking but redefines the conventional idea of thunderous action we have imbibed from years of Bollywood!
There are too many fleeting ideas in John Day, none of which are properly explored. Even hinting at child sodomy, the film uses it a sham to conceal its disrupted writing and utter dullness which is hellish and infuriating.
John Day Review: Star Performances
Naseeruddin Shah is taut and somehow managed to evoke empathy out of you! He is assigned a mere caricature and yet the actor of his rank manages to dish out something worthwhile from it.
Randeep Hooda is plain boring after a point though he begins well as the menacing, brooding antagonist. He does engage you for a while but after that the actor gets plain repetitive in the way he hurls abuses or how he un-emotes on screen.
It is clumsy how actors like Shernaz Patel and Makarand Deshpande were left unused in the sketchily painted characters which if developed could have helped the film.
Sharat Saxena would be a copy of Abdel Khader Khan from Gregory David Roberts’ bestselling novel Shantaram. It is quite a surprise how a man with that pious a soul can involve himself in any crime at all.
John Day Review: Direction, Editing and Music
Solomon clearly misses the soul of the story altogether as he weaves the film that is meant to underline the tragedy of the lives of its characters. However the film refuses to stretch out as a dark thriller coming across as profane product that at best could be convoluted. If those who presumed it’s art cinema, it most definitely is not despite the desperate attempt to attain the creme de le creme status of it. The dramatic twists are flat and the heavy Christian imagery that incessantly catches your attention doesn’t have anything effortless in it. The film’s music is climactic and haunting which will annoy you beyond a point. The film’s editing is plain terrible as it feels like a 5 hour long tirade. Have you ever played a puzzle game where the pieces just refuse to fall in place? This film will replicate just that feeling for you!
John Day Review: The Last Word
From the trailer, I expected John Day to be a marvel of sorts but with deceiving story that runs off track for most part, the film is too ambiguous. Though Naseeruddin Shah’s acting helps, the film revels in morbidity and audaciously flaunts its comatose story. Frankly I was terrorized by this arid movie’s drabness. I went in hoping for so much and came out thinking how bad will it be if I mark this film a zero. However, I finally settled for 1/5 for John Day. The best thing that happened to me all day was that the film finally got over after what felt like light years.
John Day Trailer
John Day releases on 13th September, 2013.
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