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Movie Review: Koyelaanchal (2014)

Koyelaanchal0.5 Stars (out of 4)

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The only info one needs when deciding whether to watch Koyelaanchal is that director Ashu Trikha includes multiple flashbacks from the perspective of an infant. Let me repeat: A baby has flashbacks in a violent drama about the coal mafia.

The fact that Koyelaanchal is about the coal mafia is the only fact anyone can be sure of regarding the movie. It’s so disorganized that it’s never established which character is the film’s protagonist. It could be the coal don, Saryu Bhan Singh (Vinod Khanna). It could be the don’s hired killer, Karua (Vipinno). It could be Nisheeth (Suniel Shetty), the government bureaucrat sent to clean up the town. It could be the baby.

Koyelaanchal begins with a glimpse into life in the title town. A bunch of people die in a bunch of separate incidents, though it’s not clear why. All that’s clear is that the police don’t care and that Saryu Bhan is the town bigwig.

Nisheeth arrives from Delhi, ready to lay down the law. He’s disabused of that notion when Karua slits a guy’s throat in front of him, and the police chief (Deepraj Rana) says the victim probably had it coming.

On Saryu Bhan’s orders, Karua attempts to scare Nisheeth by shooting at him and stealing his car. Uh oh: Nisheeth’s baby is in the back seat! Queue the interval break.

After spending the first half establishing that Karua is Saryu Bhan’s cold-blooded, mindless lapdog — he washes Saryu Bhan’s feet and drinks the wash water, for Pete’s sake — the bulk of the second half of the movie is spent on an unbelievable comedy/character redemption arc as Karua takes care of the baby.

Asking the audience to suddenly find it charming as Karua — a guy who killed a labor protestor on stage at a rally using a dancer’s scarf — gets grossed out by a baby peeing is absurd. But it’s not as absurd as the baby’s flashbacks.

The baby watches as the admittedly fit Karua does push ups on the floor of their hideout shack. The camera fades to black-and-white as the baby fondly remembers being carried by Nisheeth on his shoulders. Cut back to the present, where the wistful baby crawls over to Karua and climbs on his back. Karua resumes his push ups, giving the baby the ride he so longed for.

If that’s not enough to make you puke, Koyelaanchal is full of enough blood, gore, vomit, and urine to make you do so.

Nisheeth yells a lot, but he does next to nothing to save his kidnapped child. Saryu Bhan might be a compelling character if Trikha had allotted time for character development, instead of wasting time by having random Maoists blow stuff up periodically.

There’s nothing in it to make me recommend Koyelaanchal. The few laughs it generates are completely unintentional. (Drinking game idea: take a shot every time Karua points a gun at the baby.) Even the dramatic elements aren’t interesting enough to overcome the movie’s sluggish pace and underdeveloped characters.



Movie Review: Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster (2011)

2.5 Stars (out of 4)

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Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster (“Sir, Wife, and Gangster” literally, “The King, His Wife, and the Gangster” colloquially) is a romantic thriller full of passion and intrigue that entertains while falling just short of its potential.

Aditya (Jimmy Shergill) is the descendent of a noble family in northern India. As a sign of respect, everyone — including his wife — calls him Saheb (“sir”). But Saheb has a secret: he’s broke. He relies on handouts from his wealthy stepmother to pay for his army of thugs and his mistress, Mahua (Shreya Narayan).

A mafia don named Gainda Singh aims to usurp Saheb by murdering the nobleman’s thugs and undercutting Saheb on lucrative construction contracts. Gainda even arranges for a desperate young man named Babloo (Randeep Hooda) to spy on Saheb while serving as a fill-in chauffeur.

At Saheb’s compound, Babloo is warned about the dangers of the place by spunky Suman (Deepal Shaw), the daughter of Kanhaiya (Deepraj Rana), Saheb’s right-hand-man and head assassin. Saheb’s wife, Madhavi (Mahie Gill), is mentally ill and prone to fits. She’s also lonely and seduces Babloo, placing him in peril.

Madhavi identifies Babloo as an opportunist, though he bristles at the label. His actions drive the plot forward, as his allegiance switches between Gainda, Saheb, and Madhavi. All this happens under the noses of Saheb and Gainda, who are absorbed in their own power struggle. Screenwriters Sanjay Chauhan and Tigmanshu Dhulia (also the movie’s producer and director) do an impressive job keeping many different balls in the air.

While the machinations of the characters are varied and entertaining enough to sustain interest, the characters themselves aren’t as fully developed as they could have been. Madhavi is particularly problematic. She’s introduced in a kind of manic state, prone to wild outbursts. Those outbursts disappear almost entirely once she begins her affair with Babloo. Whether he has some kind of calming influence on her or they disappear as part of some sort of manic-depressive cycle is unclear.

Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster eventually hints that perhaps Madhavi’s erratic persona is an act, but nothing that comes before supports such an abrupt change. If she is genuinely as disturbed as she appears to be, she would not be able to turn it off when a better opportunity presents itself.

Suman is underused in what could have been a pivotal role. Apart from her initial warnings to Babloo, she has little to do until Saheb suggests that she and Babloo get married. Even then, the idea is scuttled by Babloo’s reaction, which essentially amounts to, “Eww. Gross.”

The film could’ve amped up the tension had there been real romantic chemistry between Babloo and Suman. How would she have reacted if he pushed her aside to pursue an affair with Madhavi? Would she have protected him from her father’s suspicion? Ratted on him to Saheb? Sought revenge in other ways?

On the whole, the film has an entertaining amount of intrigue but doesn’t go far enough to be a great thriller. Perhaps Dhulia will push the envelope in his upcoming sequel to Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster.


  • Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster at Wikipedia
  • Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster at IMDb