‘Sooryavanshi’ Review: for Once, the Hype is Justified with 140 Minute Action Extravaganza
A scene from “Sooryavanshi.” (Trailer Grab)
By R.M. VIJAYAKAR/Special to India-West
Welcome back to thoroughbred Hindi film entertainment, Rohit Shetty style! For once, the hype, the long wait for a cinematic release, the stubborn refusal to surrender to a streaming platform release: they are all justified!
Rohit Shetty not only creates his third iconic cop after Singham and Simmba in Veer Sooryavanshi (Akshay Kumar, incidentally, Shetty’s first first non-Maharashtrian police officer who works for the Anti-Terrorist Squad) and first film with an Indian cop universe, but gives us a layered crime drama with a substantial dose of comedy and emotions.
“Taali bajao” and “seeti maar” (playing to the audience and eliciting claps and whistles) nationalism (equality of religions sans appeasement, references to Article 370 being rendered inoperative and raising enemy hackles, people putting nation above family and religion) adds to the allure of the 140 minutes-plus action extravaganza that becomes a heady cocktail of a crackerjack pace and some spectacular and big-screen action diluted only by emotions within family, friends and associates, even those of the terrorists.
So well does Rohit Shetty handle this intoxicating blend of entertainment that even a rather far-fetched scene of a dead cop’s widow (Sharvari Lohokare) advising Sooryavanshi (Akshay Kumar)’s wife Ria (Katrina Kaif) against leaving her husband turns out to be one of the emotional high-points. Ria, a doctor, has decided to separate when her husband’s professional mission almost kills their child. Another scene that could have looked too melodramatic but comes across as impressive is when people of two faiths combine to save the idol of Ganesh from terrorists.
The chases and car acrobatics (a Shetty forte back in full force here) are, of course, done with assured mastery but some extra boldness, and again it is to Shetty’s credit that no action or interrogation sequence becomes gruesome or unpalatable.
The story is fundamental: 1993’s Mumbai explosions changed several lives, including that of the hero, whose parents are killed in the blast, and that of Bilal Ahmed (Kumud Mishra), the brain behind the blasts, who escapes to Pakistan. He joins forces with Omar (Jackie Shroff) who will not stop at anything to harm India. More important, ATS investigations reveal that only 40 percent of the RDX that was then smuggled into India was used, while the rest remains hidden.
There is the ever-continued ruthless game between ATS, their intelligence sources and the terrorists and their agents who are living in India with fake (and Hindu!) identities since 2007. Sooryavanshi and his chief Kabir Shroff (Jaaved Jafferi) get cracking on every report they get and the net result is the arrest of Riyaaz Hafeez (Abhimanyu Singh). And then Omar and Bilal hatch their masterplan, which again targets Mumbai city and will employ the remaining RDX that lies secretly buried. For that, Bilal must reach Mumbai and contact Usmani (Gulshan Grover), who uses his position in a small town for his nefarious ends.
A Shetty forte is that he never portrays law officers in a negative light and manages to spin a gripping tale without getting into aspects like traitors within the force. The end sequence of the Coast Guards foiling the plot is shown with finesse, though we wonder how so many men on the side of the baddies emerge to attack the police station in the climax. But then, if you did it with a master like Manmohan Desai 40 years ago, you have to hand it to “Rohit Shetty and Team,” which takes credit for every one of his films, to make people forget this illogic and just enjoy the blend of action and humor in which he proudly introduces his cop universe!
Mammoth claps to the entire writing team and the razor-sharp editing by Bunty Nagi that give substance, pace, pep and fizz to the story. The camerawork (Jomon T. John) is of high order and the background music (Anil Mohile) serviceable. The re-created song “Tip Tip Barsa Pani” (filmed earlier again on Akshay Kumar in “Mohra”) is extremely well-enacted and (for a change) well-written, while superlative use is made of “Chhodo Kal Ki Baatein” from the 1960 film “Hum Hindustani,” bringing out the timeless appeal of the words in this beautiful number composed by Usha Khanna and written by Prem Dhawan, who are both sadly not credited.
Shetty excels in the performances he comes out with from his lead players. Akshay Kumar’s humorous sequences match his intense dramatic ones, and it is another effortless turn in a long line. Ranveer Singh and Ajay Devgn are also superlative. Katrina Kaif gets a not-too-long role with weight and Kumud Mishra, Jaaved Jafferi, Gulshan Grover and Abhimanyu Singh shine. Jackie Shroff has now mastered the art of villainy and he does it effortlessly. From the small players, Anil Charanjeet as the helpful neighbor, Ashish Warang as Tambe, Sharvari Lohokare as his wife, Arif Basra as Rafique, Vivan Bhatena as the cop and Rajendra Gupta as Abbas’ father stand out.
This is one firecracker that’s gonna create a mega-blast at the festival box-office. Said to have taken a record opening, “Sooryavanshi” is a perfect smash-hit for the holiday season. And the best thing is that this film is critic-proof!
Produced by: Hiroo Johar, Karan Johar, Aruna Bhatia, Apoorva Mehta & Rohit Shetty
Directed by: Rohit Shetty
Written by: Yunus Sajawal. Farhad Samji ,Vidhi Ghodaonkar, Rohit Shetty & Sanchit Bedre
Music: Usha Khanna, Viju Shah, Pritam, Pav Dharia, Tanishk Bagchi, Lijo George -D J Chetas, Kaushik, Guddu And Akash (Jam8)
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Jackie Shroff, Jaaved Jafferi, Kumud Mishra, Abhimanyu Singh, Vivan Bathena, Jayraj R. Kanani, Kishor Govind Mahabole, Pournima Manohar, Ajit Shidhaye, Shruti Panwar, Mrunal Jain, Nikitin Dheer, Uday Tikekar, Haelyn Shastri, Anil Charanjeet, Ashish Warang, Umakant Patil, Niharica Raizada, Sikandar Kher, Sofiya Khan, Sharvari Lohokare & others. Special Appearances: Ajay Devgn & Ranveer Singh