An old joke about Indian politicians goes that a corrupt politician isn?t one who takes bribes.
He is one who takes bribes and still doesn?t get the work done. After watching Knock Out, I thought we should apply this to filmmakers also: so a mediocre filmmaker isn?t one who steals blatantly. He is one who steals blatantly and still can?t come up with a half decent film.
In Knock Out, writer-director Mani Shankar takes the 2003 thriller Phone Booth and marries it with a plot about getting back approximately Rs 60 lakh crore that corrupt politicians have siphoned out of India and stored in Swiss banks.
In Phone Booth, Colin Farrell plays a sleazy, unfaithful publicist trapped in a phone booth by an unseen sniper. Here we have Irrfan who for some reason has dropped his last name, as Tony a sleazy, unfaithful investment banker who helps politicians stash their money and is therefore trapped in a phone booth by a sniper.
If Mani Shankar had faithfully copied Phone Booth, we might have had a reasonably diverting thriller but his original additions, which echo the vigilante justice angle of A Wednesday, reduce Knock Out to a cartoon.
After all, how seriously can you take a film in which Kangna Ranaut in alarmingly pouting lips, high heels and sexy suit plays a television news journalist and director Apoorva Lakhia, sitting in a high-tech van, plays a deadly encounter specialist.
Poor Irrfan, wearing strange curls, mostly cowers in the booth while Sanjay Dutt, playing the super-smart sniper, handles high-tech weaponry and moves up and down buildings with the ease of Spider-Man.
At one point he grimly declares: Main insaan pe bharosa nahin karta. Technology mere liye kafi hai. But my favourite moment is when Dutt advises Tony to do the right thing. He says: Jo bhi karna apne dil se karna kyunki dil waise left main hota hai lekin hamesha right hota hai.
That dialogue says it all. Check out Knock Out if you want to be knocked out.
One and a half star