The Film: Insan
In this fast-changing scenario, when Bollywood is also going through a metamorphosis, some things haven't changed at all. The masala films dominated the Hindi cinema in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. No wonder, some film-makers still consider masala films to be a safe bet at the box-office.
Keshu Ramsay's INSAN, directed by K. Subaash, follows the set-pattern of masala films of yore. A remake of Krishna Vamsi's Telugu film KHADGAM [Srikanth, Sonali Bendre, Prakash Raj, Ravi Teja, Kim Sharma], INSAN has just about everything to woo the front-benchers.
There's the terrorism angle, the jehadis, a dash of secularism, the vendetta aspect, ample romance and yes, the mandatory dream songs. Haven't we watched all this before? Yes, we have, but every director has his style of interpreting a story.
INSAN is an apt case of old wine with a new casing. Stuffing just about every ingredient available on the shelf, K. Subaash comes up with a product that seems completely outdated in today's times. Those with refined tastes [for cinema] wouldn't take to a film like INSAN, for it caters to the hoi polloi exclusively.
Amjad [Akshay Kumar] is an auto-rickshaw driver in love with Heena [Esha Deol]. But Heena's parents [Archana Puransingh, Sharat Saxena] do not approve of Amjad due to his penniless status.
Ajit Rathod [Ajay Devgan] is a man on a mission. The young cop had lost his wife [Koena Mitra] while chasing a dreaded terrorist, Masood. His accomplice, Azhar [Rahul Dev], had gunned down his wife during the melee.
Although Masood is arrested, Ajit now wants to track down Azhar to avenge his wife's death. Azhar incidentally happens to be the younger brother of Amjad.
While the manhunt for Azhar is on, Ajit meets Meghna [Lara Dutta], Amjad's neighbour who runs karate classes [karatewali bai - she's affectionately called that!]. Although Ajit and Meghna are attracted to each other, they don't really express their feelings. Amjad too hatches a plot to win the hearts of his prospective in-laws.
The third angle of the story is that of two wannabe actors, Avinash [Tusshar Kapoor] and Indu [Laila], who subsequently turn soul mates. Like most commercial films, this one also has a positive ending: Good triumphs over evil. Ajit and Amjad unite and eliminate the terrorists. In fact, Amjad even guns down his brother and there's not even a tinge of regret in his tone.
What really could've been an interesting masala flick is ruined by oft-repeated punches and equally lackluster execution. Although a remake, the film borrows so heavily from numerous films that relied on the tried-and-tested formulae that it doesn't take much time to guess what the next scene would be like.
Frankly, INSAN has nothing novel to talk of. Besides, there are so many sub-plots in the narrative that it's like watching a number of stories in those two hours. While the Ajay-Koena story is completely lifeless, the Akshay-Esha story is thoroughly entertaining. Then, again, the Ajay-Lara story is half-baked, but the Tusshar-Laila story, which gets ample footage, has a few interesting scenes, but the impact is missing.
The terrorism angle - that of Masood, the militant from the neighbouring country - is again intriguing, but the Rahul Dev chapter is outright predictable. Even the climax - when Rahul Dev demands that Masood be released or else he'd blow up the train - reminds you of YEH DIL AASHIQANAA and ZAMEEN [here, the terrorists hijack an entire aircraft and demand that the chief militant, in police custody, be released].
The songs in the enterprise are also a stumbling block. Practically every song in the film, barring the Ajay-Koena track, comes up without valid situations.
On the plus side, the film has several mass appealing moments and clap-trap situations that would be liked by the aam janta. To cite instances, the confrontation scene between Ajay and Masood vis-?is the Indian flag is very well executed and has tremendous mass appeal. Prior to that, Akshay Kumar's introduction - when he tries to control an angry mob - is well handled. Even the sequences between Akshay, Esha and Archana Puransingh are a delight.
K. Subaash has handled a few sequences dexterously, but how one wishes the director would've opted for a novel script. The film tries to say more than required in those 2.30 hours! Himesh Reshammiya's music is plain mediocre. Naeem-Ejaz's dialogues are punch-packed at places. Action scenes [in plenty] are as usual.
INSAN belongs to Akshay Kumar completely. The actor has a better role and of course, better lines. Enacting a comic role yet again [he provided the light moments in an otherwise serious KHAKEE; also, he enacted the comic role in MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGI with aplomb], Akshay proves that there's more to him than just using fisticuffs. His sequences with Esha - especially the birthday portions - are simply hilarious.
Ajay Devgan has a serious role and he takes to it like a seasoned player. Without doubt it's a sincere performance, but somewhere down the line, the actor seems to be getting typecast in similar roles.
Tusshar is just about okay. Esha Deol is likeable, although she tends to go over the top at times. Lara Dutta has no role to talk of. Koena Mitra carries one expression throughout, whether happy or sad. Laila doesn't impress. Amongst character actors, Rahul Dev and Archana Puransingh register an impact.
On the whole, INSAN is a typical masala film that may find some patronage with the hardcore masses. At the box-office, the film has some chances in circuits like U.P., Punjab and Bihar, where action flicks fare better. At multiplexes, its chances seem remote.