It is unlikely that there has ever been, or ever will be, a movie quite like Zila Ghaziabad – it is supposedly inspired by real-life incidents and characters and is yet bereft of any semblance of authenticity. Must have taken some doing!
The film unleashes such a merciless, ceaseless and mindless onslaught on the senses and the eardrums that it could actually put the assault rifles of the most trigger-happy of crime lords in the shade.
Zila Ghaziabad is a professed reenactment of the violent gang wars that shook parts of Ghaziabad in the 1990s.
However, director Anand Kumar does not demonstrate the slightest regard for either realism or rationality.
One can safely deduce from the evidence on the screen that he has not the foggiest sense of the setting and the time-frame of the film.
The speck on the map that Zila Ghaziabad takes its title from is as good as non-existent in the film. Neither the indoor spaces nor the exterior backdrops bear the remotest resemblance to any known structure or landscape in any part of the district of Ghaziabad.
All that the director does is filch the worst devices from Dabangg and Singham, stitch together snatches of info culled presumably from the district police files, and stage a series of unimaginative action sequences (that are all empty sound and fury) to prove how lawless Ghaziabad once was.
If there is anything he manages to prove, it is this: the ghost of the Z-grade potboilers of the 1980s still looms over Hindi cinema. But don’t blame it on Ghaziabad!
The director rustles up an atrocious patchwork. It is sought to be passed off as a faithful chronicle of a criminal-infested badland on the outskirts of Delhi. Some gall! You can only recoil in absolute horror.
Zila Ghaziabad is the story – that is, if you deign to call it a story – of two nasty clans engaged in a fierce clash first over ownership of a plot of land, then over the mounting spoils of crime, then for political turf, and finally for nothing that makes any apparent sense.
They just keep shooting at each other and spilling a lot of blood. Coppola’s Godfather is safe, but Ghaziabad certainly isn’t.
With a film like this out there, this fast-growing district of Uttar Pradesh’s wild, wild west is in grave danger of being besmirched forever.
The virile and venal men, a few of them sporting kohl-lined eyes and crew cuts, strut around with a forced swagger to the accompaniment of a raspy background score completely out of sync with the world that it is supposed to reflect.
When their weapons do the talking, everybody in the firing line is a sitting duck. And when they open their mouths to spout dialogues of the most inane variety, they are unstoppable. The audience is left speechless.
The cast of Zila Ghaziabad does have a few quality actors – Paresh Rawal, Arshad Warsi and Divya Dutta among them – but the man at the helm is a great leveller.
He spares nobody at all. He turns each and every member of the cast into a lump of ham that is beyond digestion.
In the midst of the marauding goons is an equally untamed policeman (Sanjay Dutt) who listens to songs from Hindi films of the early 1990s (Saajan, Thanedaar) and participates in dance numbers that are unabashedly inspired by the moves of Chulbul Pandey and his item girls.
And when this eccentric cop isn’t slapping lawyers and taking a politician (Ravi Kissen) on a long march to the police station with much fanfare, he gets one gangster, Fauji (modelled on Mahendra Singh Bainsla and played by Arshad Warsi), all worked up against another, Satbir (modelled on Satbir Gujjar and played by Vivek Oberoi).
Warsi has never been worse. And that’s really sad. He is usually such an effortless actor. But this is Zila Ghaziabad – as the film’s villain, he has to hector and holler in order to be heard above the deafening din.
Dutt makes heavy weather of the Salman Khan 'crooked cop' act. It isn’t a walk in the park after all – even Salman has to sweat to get it right.
One feels sorry for Oberoi. He goes all out to make the most of the character of a school teacher-turned-criminal who loses his near and dear ones, and his head, as the gang war spirals out of control.
The actor’s passion is rather touching – it suggests that he believes that this role could turn things around for him. It is a bit like his asking for the moon on a moonless night.
Zila Ghaziabad is unalloyed trash. It is headed straight for the dump yard – stay well clear.