If filmmaker Atul Sabharwal’s tribute to the 1970s and to Salim-Javed is admittedly in the lost-and-found twins plot of Aurangzeb, it shows clearly in this one scene: The bad boy protagonist returns home after a fist fight just as his girlfriend comes out of the pool. We have just had a good look at her, because she was conveniently doing backstroke in a bikini. The scene is reminiscent of the time when bad people always lounged by the pool with their molls.
Aurangzeb is set against the background of the real estate mafia in the newly developed Gurgaon. To capture a real estate kingpin (Jackie Shroff), a familial group of policemen led by the uncle (Rishi Kapoor), along with son (Sikander Kher) and nephew (Prithviraj Sukumaran), hatch a plot: to replace the tycoon’s son Ajay with his long-assumed dead twin Vishal (Arjun Kapoor), who would act as their mole. However, not everything goes to plan as Vishal develops feelings for his brother’s girl (Sasheh Agha) and gets closer to a father he was estranged from. A series of twists and turns, plots and betrayals, politics and businesses later, the film culminates in a Roberto Rodriguez-style climax during which almost everyone shoots everyone else dead.
While the plot may be derived heavily from films like Don, Trishul, The Departed etc, there are only moments when the screenplay sparkles. The rest of the time, inconsistencies in pace, poor music and a long-drawn climax nip the bite out of Aurangzeb. Sabharwal writes an interesting story, but over-writes the screenplay and is falls prey to saying too much.
Too much happens far too conveniently, nobody prepares for a plan so diabolical and there are no repercussions to anybody being killed off.
Kapoor has moments when he is believable; perhaps being the bad boy suits him much more than the clean cut one. He is neither experienced nor skilled enough to carry off a film even if he is given twin chances to do so. Agha might look the part but lacks screen presence. Senior pros like Shroff and Amrita Singh bring some gravitas to their parts.
Two people stand tall in this complex web. Rishi Kapoor as the manipulative head of the family is superb, his character changing from shades of grey to complete dark effortlessly. Prithviraj does well to live down the disaster that was Aiyya, his first film in Hindi. His character, the son of an idealist but failed cop, who looks up to his successful, powerful uncle and wants to emulate him, undergoes a transformation as the plot unravels. He is controlled, vulnerable, smart yet emotional. And for some reason, he never smiles. Prithviraj’s Hindi diction too is better than expected considering it’s not his first language.
A potentially smart family and crime drama, Aurangzeb falters in its realization. A slightly more experienced actor might have brought in the vulnerability absent in brothers separated as children but reunited by crime and circumstance.