Film: “Gurgaon”; Director: Shanker Raman; Cast: Akshay Oberoi, Ragini Khanna, Pankaj Tripathy, Aamir Bashir, Shalini Vatsa, Arjun Fauzdar and Yogi Singha; Rating: **1/2
The film opens with a promising, serious sequence that preaches how nature is violated by man and warns us about its repercussions. But the story that follows is too feeble to substantiate this initial claim.
Mounted as a noir thriller and embedded with artificial flourish, Shanker Raman’s maiden directorial venture “Gurgaon” is a moody, heinous family drama based on true incidents.
With female infanticide, greed and sibling jealousy as vile motives, the story reveals the psychotic behaviour of an estate developer’s clan who is based in one of the most economically developing regions of northern India – Gurgaon.
Property magnet Kehri Singh (Pankaj Tripathi) has an ominous past. In his endeavour to be prosperous, he visits a soothsayer, who tells him that his daughter will bring him all the luck he needs. So he adopts an orphan, Preet (Ragini Khanna) and showers all his attention on her. This has an adverse effect on his biological son Nikki (Akshay Oberoi), who resorts to vices and substance abuse.
To prove himself worthy, Nikki proposes various business projects, the latest being a gym in an upcoming locality. When his proposals fail to impress his father and he realises that Kehri plans to hand over the development project of the land to his sister, who has just returned home from the US after studying architecture, he resorts to illegal methods of raising money for his pet project.
But luck evades him and he lands up owing a bookie Rs 1 crore. Desperate to ease his financial woes and raise funds to pay back the bookie and for his dream project, he hits upon a plan to kidnap his sister Preet, fully aware that his father will cough-up the ransom amount.
But predictably, his plan goes awry and the chain of events only get murkier.
The plot, with cardboard thin, one-dimensional characters and a sub-standard screenplay the narrative seems forced to ensure mystery and drama. But, the real fascination in the film lies in the subtle, under-stated performances of its cast who speak in a fluent Haryanvi accent.
Akshay Oberoi plays the handsome yet deprived bad boy, Nikki with natural ease. It is his cold gaze and his coterie of friends that add to his aura.
With her tomboyish demeanour, Ragini Khanna packs quite a punch as Preet.
Pankaj Tripathy as the ever-sozzled Kehri Singh with passive, impenetrable expression is perfunctorily disturbing but not menacing. He is aptly supported by Shalini Vatsa as his wife Karma Devi, who exudes a strong screen presence. She leaves an indelible mark in the minds of the audience.
Aamir Bashir as Kehri’s friend and police investigator Bhupinder Hooda has nothing much to offer and is wasted.
On the technical front, with moderate production values, the film is astutely crafted. The violence though deadly is not so graphic or stylized as to be voyeuristic, but the climax is definitely shocking.
While the sound effects and music by Naren Chandavarkar and Benedict Taylor are used to great effect to pump up the mood that accompany the stylishly designed frames captured by Vivek Shah’s lensing, the jerky edits mar the viewing experience.
The last number that accompanies the end-credits is soulful and worth the wait for the credits to wind up.