Film: 50 Lakh
Director: Chandrashekhar Yeleti
Producer: Percept Picture Company
Cast: Pavan Malhotra, Mohit Chaddha, Shashank, Sindhu Tolani, Virendra Chauhan, Abhishek Kumar and Janardhan Chaudhury
How does one read a movie, which does not fall into any proven categories of features made for a wide audience? Chandrashekhar Yeletiâ€™s first Hindi film 50 Lakh seemingly falls into a no-man’s land between a mainstream film, parallel cinema, realistic entertainer, crossover, multiplex and what have you. Well, then the only parameters that remain to read a film by are its own merits as a film.
50 Lakh is suspense film, which tells the story of five youngsters, average Joes (and one Jane), desperately in need of money for various reasons taking a short-cut (read: illegal), which is valid in an indirect sort of way. During this process they get closely entangled with a dangerous Mafiosi, Irfan Khan (played by Pavan Malhotra) and in the process life throws them difficult questions to answer. The road they take, the answers they choose makes up rest of the film.
The strong point of the film is its story and screenplay. Full of surprising twists and clever turns, the film churns out fare that is apt to hook the audience to their seats. Juxtapositioning the world of the don and that of the boys, donâ€™s search of fresh boys for crime and the capers of the boys themselves and the inter-weaving of the subsequent events with each other displays the efficiency of the screenplay and direction. Full marks to ChandrashekharYeleti for knowing his medium well enough to cut a fine story.
But sadly, the joy ride ends there. The films extremely poor production values dent the viewing experience immensely. The lack of gloss is not made up with the charm of realism. Frames are bare, colours dull, surroundings haggard, textures poor and production design below average. The look, feel, sense of artistes and their surroundings is too sub-average to be taken seriously and does the capability of the screenplay great disservice. For a story with better potential than most mainstream films it is sad to see it looking like a PG diploma film. Especially for a Percept Picture film.
Having said that, the screenplay is not completely flawless either. The film begins with the don and introduces us with his might and strength. Had the association with the don ended there the narrative would have been tighter and more focussed in its sympathies. But the movie continues to follow the don into his personal space and plans, introducing us to the protagonists much later. The protagonists who are supposed to charm us and win our sympathies completely sideline the don then, leaving the audience feeling a wee bit betrayed. But the screenplay packs the characterisation and relationships of the protagonists quite well to endear them enough to the audience and hence this flaw doesnâ€™t bother too much. Just that, by the end of it, it seems that Pavan Malhotra has got a raw deal.
Especially so, when he is eminently watchable as the dangerous and powerful mafia don. He portrays the character of Irfan Khan delightfully well and the film would have benefited if the character had been supported with some more gimmicky stunts. The lead actor Mohit Chaddha, the runner-up winner of Cinestar ki Khoj debuts in this film and does not do a bad job in a limited and conventional role. Whether he has mainstream appeal or not remains to be seen. The rest of the cast, Shashank, Sindhu Tolani, Virendra Chauhan, Abhishek Kumar and Janardhan Chaudhury do their job well.
The film cries out to be treated in the genre of thrillers but is crippled by an evident low budget. Hence, unimaginative cinematography, maximum use of natural lights without manipulation, limited exploration in art direction and other such features discredit the overall experience. Editing is sharp and helps keep the film its pace, a key to its flow.
The film has been made in Telugu simultaneously and has done quite well. The Hindi version will see a huge drawback because of extremely bad production values. Lack of publicity will hit the film hard as well. In this scenario Perceptâ€™s decision to release it only in Mumbai and Pune doesnâ€™t seem very wise.
Take a peek, if lack of eye-candy and poor frames donâ€™t hinder your enjoyment of a well-told story which is an experience in itself.