Star cast: Sanjay Dutt, Irrfan Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Gulshan Grover, Sushant Singh, Rukhsar.
Plot: Irrfan Khan is an investment banker and also a wheeler dealer. Sanjay wants to expose him in front of the world, and through him, the corrupt politicians whose black money Irrfan helps deposit in Swiss Bank accounts.
What’s Good: Performances of Irrfan Khan and the rest of the cast.
What’s Bad: The real-time concept of the film which won’t be understood and/or appreciated by the audience; the implausibility of the plot.
Verdict: Knock Out will be knocked out of the theatres before long.
Loo break: Not really.
Aap Entertainment Ltd. and Sohail Maklai Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.’s Knock Out (UA) is a thriller that happens in real time. Veer Vijay Singh, a mystery-man (Sanjay Dutt), is a lone ranger who has the latest weapons and gadgets. Bachu alias Tony Khosla (Irrfan Khan) is a street-smart investment banker who helps politician Bapuji (Gulshan Grover) park his black money in a Swiss Bank account. Bachu has a roving eye and he has affairs with gullible girls in spite of having a wife, Laxmi (Rukhsar), and young daughter.
A mystery-man (Sanjay Dutt) wants to strip Bachu of his arrogance and expose him and his dirty deeds before the public. To carry out his mission, he telephones Bachu, who is in a telephone booth close by, and blackmails him into spilling the beans about his extra-marital affairs. It later turns out that the mystery-man is also troubled by the evil activities of politicians and leaders who loot the general public and stash their ill-gotten wealth in Swiss Bank accounts. He wants to bring back the black money of the politicians into India as he feels, it belongs to the Indian public. Since Bachu is the person who aids the politicians in depositing their ill-gotten wealth in Swiss Bank accounts, the man is after him to expose the politicians through an expose on him (Bachu). As Bachu is in a telephone booth in a crowded street, the blackmailing by the mystery-man unfolds before everybody present there.
Nidhi Shrivastava (Kangana Ranaut) is a television reporter who is covering the drama for her channel, giving the public a blow by blow account of the proceedings. Vikram (Sushant Singh) is leading the police team which is tackling this unique case involving bullets emanating from the mystery-man’s hideout and the consequent disturbance of public peace. As things begin to hot up, minister Bapuji pulls strings to get Ranbir Singh (Apoorva Lakhia) to replace Vikram as the latter is unwilling to shoot Bachu dead before he spills the beans about his (Bapuji’s) black money.
What happens to Vikram? Does the public get to know who the mystery-man is and why he is doing what he is doing? Is the mystery-man able to complete his mission? Does Bachu help the mystery-man who set out to expose him? These questions find answers in the latter part of the film.
Mani Shankar’s story, set in real time, draws inspiration from the Hollywood film, Phone Booth. Since this (real-time film) is an alien concept for the average Indian film goer, its appeal, comprehension and acceptability will be far from universal. No doubt, the plot is quite interesting upto a point but yet, it leaves something to be desired in the minds of the masses especially. Since the film moves on a single track, tediousness sets in in the latter part of the film for an audience which is used to getting a mix of ingredients in a film, such as emotions, drama, comedy, songs, dances, sub-plots, action et al. There are several of these ingredients in this film too, but since they all relate to the one topic of exposing Bachu Tony, the feeling the viewer gets is of monotony. Also, the writer has tried to make the drama very all-encompassing by showing the common man exulting and rejoicing in the climax. But it is common knowledge that things are not as simple as they are shown to be in the climax of the film in the sense that the Indian public would never stand to benefit or gain in any case, whatever may have happened in the climax. This is what makes the drama more for the classes although an attempt has been made by Mani Shankar to make it mass-appealing.
The mystery-man talking endlessly on the telephone to Bachu Tony, and the police standing helplessly, unable to either stop the bullets being fired by him from an unkown flat nearby or trace the mystery-man looks silly, to say the least. In short, the plot looks unbelievable. That’s also because too much emphasis has been laid by Mani Shankar on technology rather than the human capabilities. The question that troubles the audience is: is technology available only to the mystery-man and not to the police force?
What makes matters more implausible is that the entire film is this one drama involving lakhs of crores of rupees of India, being unfolded on the streets. The story, therefore, looks too simplistic to be true, which is self-defeating. Dialogues (by Shiraz Ahmed) are effective.
SanjayDutt underplays beautifully. He goes through his role with maturity. Irrfan Khan is extraordinary. He is natural to the core and performs brilliantly. Several of his scenes evoke laughter but the one which brings the house down is where he dances to the song being played by the mystery-man on the phone. Kangana Ranaut acts well, adding both, glamour and style to her character. Gulshan Grover is very efficient. Rukhsar leaves a mark. Sushant Singh is a delight to watch. Asif Basra gets limited scope but stands his own. Apoorva Lakhia acts quite well. The others provide able support.
Mani Shankar’s direction is good as the narration keeps the interest of the audience alive throughout. There are no songs in the film but the background music, scored by Atul Raninga and Sanjay Wandrekar, is in keeping with the mood of the drama. N. Natarajan Subramaniam’s camerawork is excellent. Stunts, choreographed by Allan Amin, Joey Ansah and Silva, are neat.
On the whole, Knock Out is a well-made thriller but it won’t do much at the box-office as it has limited appeal. Considering its unrealistically high cost (in the region of Rs. 27-30 crore), it will prove to be a disaster. Its difficult English title will only add to its tale of woes.