In the film Dishkiyaoon, a young Viki is constantly bullied in school but his father’s Gandhian philosophy of turning the other cheeks works against him. Disappointed with the lack of attention from his widower father, Viki finds solace in the company of gangster Tony (Prashant Narayanan). Naturally Viki learns the ropes from Tony and grows up to become Viki Kartoos (Harman Baweja).
The film begins with Viki recounting his entire life story in meticulous detail to Lakwa, a one-handed badass of some kind, over a game of snakes and ladders. The game becomes some sort of metaphor and the Haryanvi (Sunny Deol) becomes Viki’s new mentor. Eventually the narrative stops going into flashback and stays in the present where its case of who-blinks-first.
Director-writer Sanamjit Singh Talwar’s celluloid Mumbai is one in which it rains at will, and often, usually soaking an angst-ridden Viki in the sudden downpour. Viki has his eyes set on the throne but in order to gain it he first needs to dethrone the reigning don, Khaleefa. He’s willing to go so far for his ambition that he even sacrifices his love Meera (Ayesha Khanna). So yes, this is yet another debut director’s interpretation of gang wars and a misled youth in the midst of it all.
A mishmash of noir, gangster and Mexican westerns, the script is replete with convenient coincidences that tie up a collective of characters that hover in Viki’s orbit. There is a great deal of style, some polish but very minimal bite in the story. The flaw begins with Viki’s weak reasoning for his action and the circuitous route he adopts to get there. The older cast members such as Aditya Panscholi and lean towards the acting grammar of the 80s.
The seeti-taali (whistle-claps) kind of clichés and dialogue-baazi add to that feeling. So it’s the younger actors, chiefly Narayanan and Anand Tewari as Rocky Chu, Khaleefa’s right hand man, that keep the rhythm snappy and elevate their scenes many notches.
Ayesha Khanna is attractive but her performance is listless. Baweja plays the part by the book: emotional, angry, fight, romance. As for Sunny Deol, you wonder why he is reducing himself to trumped-up special appearances.
The twist ending comes as a surprise but it’s too little too late.