By Deepa Gahlot
Back in 1987, Gordon Gekko had declared “greed is good” in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, in which an ambitious young stockbroker is dazzled by a corporate trader and lets go of his scruples till bitter reality hits. It took a director of the calibre of Stone to make a dry subject like the stockmarket into a suspenseful and emotionally involving movie.
Years later, Gauravv Chawla attempts his version of that film with Baazaar, and make a watery mess, with Saif Ali Khan trying to pass off as a dodgy “Gujju” trader, Shakun Kothari, throwing a few lines of Gujarati around, but not even scratching the surface to get to the intended slimy cunning.
Rizwan Ahmad (Rohan Mehra — earnest) is an Allahabad boy, for whom Mumbai is heaven and Kothari his god. He is prone to dialoguebaazi like “I not come here to struggle, but to settle,” but when it comes to the crunch, he is quite dumb. He manages to get a job in a brokerage firm, and rises with help from a co-worker, Priya (Radhika Apte–passable), who has her own motives for giving him valuable tips.
After an encounter in a hotel bathroom, where Rizwan supposedly proves that he has the ability to make money, Shakun takes him under his wing, and shows him the good life. Obviously, he has an ulterior scheme and no qualms about using and discarding Rizwan.
It’s a script with no element of surprise, and no ability to draw the viewer into the world of high finance; instead there are the clichéd corrupt ministers and a sole SEBI investigator (who comes too late into the picture to make any impact).
Chawla has added some Indian touches to it, like the Gujarati businessman’s use of the ‘angadiya’, a Jain ritual of “micchami dukkadam” chanting as wheeling-dealing goes on in another room. But Kothari’s family life (his stoic wife played by an indifferent Chitrangada Singh) is portrayed with dull strokes. Rizwan sporadically speaks to the camera, and every time Shakun says, “Let me tell you a story,” there are audible groans in the theatre.
The lesson to be learnt with Baazaar is also a cliché now—don’t mess with a classic.
Directed by: Gauravv Chawla
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Rohan Mehra, Chitrangada Singh, Radhika Apte and others
Deepa Gahlot is one of India’s seniormost and best known entertainment journalists. A National Awardwinning film critic, Deepa has watched more movies and theatre than most people in the country. An author of several books on film and theatre, she has had an extremely successful run as head of theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai, during which she helped nurture several original productions. For Xyngr, Deepa Gahlot reviews theatre and cinema.