Zero Stars (out of 4)
Watch Operation Fryday on Zee5
It took more than a decade for Operation Fryday (also known as “Shooter“) to get a release, premiering with little fanfare on the streaming service Zee5. A decade wasn’t long enough.
Certainly, many of the film’s problems stem from this long time on the shelf. Actors moved on and were unavailable for re-shoots or overdubs, meaning the story had to be cobbled together from whatever footage was already shot. But I’m not sure Operation Fryday could ever have been a good movie.
I’ll give a broad overview of the story, because the details are incomprehensible. Ghulam (Randeep Hooda) works as an informant for a reckless cop named Sada Nair (Suniel Shetty), but he also kills people on behalf of a couple of warring mafia dons. When Ghulam’s brother is murdered as a result of Ghulam’s double dealing, Ghulam turns off his humanity becomes a merciless gun for hire.
One of Ghulam’s employers, Firaz (Zakir Hussain), decides that the mercenary is expendable and tries to blow him up. Ghulam’s buddy dies along with hundreds of innocent people. Overwhelmed with guilt, Ghulam slinks back to Sada Nair and offers to undertake a patriotic suicide revenge mission to find Firaz in his terrorist hideout in Pakistan.
My plot summary makes way more sense than how the story is presented. There are a bunch of random goons who shout a lot, and hundreds of people die meaningless deaths. By his own count, Ghulam kills at least 180 people — and that’s before he tosses grenades into a room full of women, children, and old folks.
As disjointed and morally hollow as the plot is, the rest of the movie isn’t any better. The whole thing looks like garbage. There are no transitions between scenes. The color palette is washed-out. Actors are back-lit or in shadows, and that’s when there aren’t objects obscuring their faces. Shaky handheld camera shots don’t look naturalistic, only unprofessional, especially since the camera is shoved in too close on the performers even in expansive outdoor shots.
Operation Fryday looks like a Ram Gopal Varma film shot on a Birdemic budget. So, it comes as no surprise that writer-director Vishram Sawant’s first movie, D, was written and produced by RGV. As an homage to his mentor, Sawant even shoots his actors from a camera positioned under a glass coffee table in one scene.
Without question, the most jarring thing about Operation Fryday is that Randeep Hooda’s voice is dubbed by an actor with a much higher-pitched voice (I think Zakir Hussain is dubbed, too). Hooda’s real voice can be heard in a couple of recorded voiceovers, but when he’s onscreen, it’s someone else speaking. Not just speaking, but making drawn out exhalations, groans, and even a “pit-TOO” sound like a cartoon cowboy spitting.
It’s kind of a shame, since Hooda fully commits to his performance. I don’t know that hearing his actual voice could have saved the movie, but it would’ve made thing less weird — and less weird would go a long way in a movie as totally (and unintentionally) weird as this.