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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Review : Race

RACE (thiller)
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna, Anil Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Katrina Kaif
Direction: Abbas-Mustan

THE Baazigars are back. Once again, the Burmawala brothers (Abbas-Mustan) dig deep into the darker side of the human psyche and come up with another thrilling study of wickedness. Ever since Shah Rukh Khan made a virtue of vile and guile in Baazigar, the director duo seemed to have specialised in a certain kind of cinema. One, where all the beautiful people are bubbling over with the beast within. And what makes their films interesting is the fact that this beastliness is born out of circumstances -- a childhood grudge, a blow of fate -- rather than being a case of pathological evil. Hence, the viewer always seems to `understand' and `empathise' with the anti-hero. As Saif Ali Khan confesses in Race: he is only scared of honest people. The rest, he can handle and outrun, in any and every race. Ethics, anyone?

The story can't get darker than this. Two brothers begin by racing bikes in childhood and end up running a race for life itself, with each trying to kill the other. Younger brother Akshaye hates big brother Saif, who not only won all the kiddy races but also managed to walk away with the family fortune, leaving kid brother completely dependent on his generosity. Under the veneer of pyar-mohabbat and traditional bhaichara , kid brother weaves a complicated plot to get rid of Bade Bhaiyya and walk away with the millions. And he's got a tantalising weapon to deliver the final blow: the sultry and super-sensuous Bipasha Basu who plays her charms against Bhai-Bhai . But it isn't Bipasha alone who keeps you guessing about her loyalties. In this gritty game of death, loyalties are as slippery as quicksand and it takes just a flick of a pretty head for a sweet simpleton to turn into a pucca predator. End result? Twists, turns, twists that keep you on the edge and leave you unblinking for most of the film.

The film boasts of a super cool look, testosterone-high action sequences, a lively music score (Pritam) and some classy performances from Akshaye and Saif as the bloodthirsty bhais . But the film does get staggered in the second half with the Anil Kapoor-Sameera Reddy track being the weakest link. Amongst the girlie brigade, it's Bipasha who adds glitz with her dangerous liaisons. Sameera too articulates the busty bimbo act with elan, reminiscent of TV's super-sleuth Karamchand's Kitty. Katrina however is too pale as the blousy secretary who comes into her own only when she gets seductive with a `Touch me, kiss me' tenor. Time for some paisa-vasool entertainment.

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