Review: Rajdhani Express
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Director: Ashok Kohli
Indian Express Rating:*
Someone has convinced Leander Paes that he can act, and that someone has clearly done a great job, because if he/she hadn't, this film wouldn't have been made. And we would have been spared sitting through something that bids fair to be amongst the worst film list of this new year. On the Rajdhani Express, heading from Delhi to Mumbai, is a motley bunch of people. A scruffy fellow (Paes) who is constantly scowling and growling, and clutching a bag in what is meant to be a suspicious manner. A designer (Pandey), who may or may not be gay. A bosomy female who is, self-confessedly, a hooker, a Bengali script-writer who steals ideas and turns them into Bollywood scripts (Chatterjee ). A wife and child of a cabinet minister. The old parents of a corrupt Maharashtrian neta. And a TTE (Grover) who trawls up and down just this VIP carriage, because clearly, there are no others we can see in the entire train.
Someone on the train feels that the scruffy fellow (Paes) with a sad back story has a bomb in his satchel. That information is ferried across to a crack anti-terrorist squad (ATS) man (Sheirgill). What happens next is a hoot: all the characters are given lots of time to say their lines, and act away madly. The girl who charges money for a bit of productive time spent with her shows promise, but the poor thing is made to do stuff no self-respecting hooker would: have long, intelligible conversations. Old hand Gulshan Grover shows up as an Allahabadi ticket collector (of course he has to chew paan and speak in an accent that's meant to be east UP every single time he opens his mouth). Paes adds a manic laugh to his repertory by the end of the film, apart from scowls and growls. And Sheirgill is the funniest: showing off his pristine white vest under what is supposed to be a uniform that crack ATS officers wear, while barking orders at underlings: udaa do usko. Impressive. The only one I felt a twinge for is Priyanshu Chatterjee, the Bengali idea-stealer of a script-writer, who puts in serious effort in order to pull off his exaggerated part. This is a good actor in a terrible film. Why can't he get better roles?