If you have seen even two decent gangster films, the script and treatment of this Mammootty-starrer will come across as completely banal. The story penned by Ahmed Sidhique and Abhilash Kumar is cliche-ridden and nowhere near the standards expected from this much-hyped film.
‘Gangster’ is a shoddily-directed, unimaginatively scripted and a poorly executed movie. Matters are not helped by the predictable performances of the actors and the endless dragging. With not a single memorable one-liner or a gritty character or an edge-of-the-seat fight sequence, all the marketing gimmicks in the run-up to the release come undone. It is slick in style, but substance is sorely missing.
The camera work by Alby is one of the rare high-points- the dark-tinted shots, and especially the flashback scenes, along with the stylish animation in the beginning are worth the money spent but the effort is marred by the shoddy editing.
The film narrates the story of Akbar Ali (Mammootty), ‘Uncle’ Sam (John Paul) and Mani Menon (Kunchan) who rule the Mangalore Port mafia. Akbar is irked when Sam’s nephew Anto Pandhare (Shekar Menon) returns from abroad and tries to smuggle contaminated vaccines through the port. The equations of power are disturbed. The newly-married Akbar’s wife Sana (Nyla Usha) gets killed in a bomb blast executed by Anto. The seething don goes for salvation to Ajmer, and returns rejuvenated to exact revenge. But when this story translates onto the screen, what we see goes something like this: Every now and then a Range Rover or two pass through an unknown sunny stretch of road. Every now and then a salt-and-pepper haired don changes his stylish glasses and jackets. A pretentious baddie is seen snorting cocaine.
Random gun fires and hand combats crowd the picture, killing several people and leave the audience disgruntled. As an industry, Mollywood is not lacking in noir cinema and there have been successes right from ‘Irupathaam Noottand’ all the way down to ‘Big B’. The industry is also part of the larger frame where well-made noir has received applause from both the masses and the critics, be it from the good phase of Ram Gopal Varma or, putting it in an Asian perspective, the ones like ‘Internal Affairs’. So it is not like mob movies have been the monopoly of Hollywood. ‘Gangster’ could have also been another gem in the Asian crown of noir, but it fails to deliver. Had the director spent time on his story and etched his characters well.
The stunning looks don’t add up to the strength of Mammootty’s don avatar. Shekar Menon has made an effort to be the rogue baddie but is no match against the all-powerful don persona of the megastar. Nyla Usha and Aparna Gopinath have tried to make the most of what comes their way, but sadly, it isn’t much. Hareesh Peradi is wasted in his confined role as Mammootty’s Man Friday. The rest of the cast too does not get much of a chance to pitch in any memorable performances, thanks to cliched storyline.
The strain of a director to appease the fans of a superstar is all that comes across in this film, which is really a sorry state of affairs, especially when an actor and a director of such calibre are involved.
Director: Aashiq Abu
Cast: Mammootty, John Paul, T G Ravi, Nyla Usha, Aparna Gopinath, Kunchan