Phamous: Old Wine, Broken Bottle.
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
The Chambal region of Madhya Pradesh has always been in the spotlight for its tales of dacoits, guns and many massacres. While some say the dacoits actually saved the valley, there are others who till this day stand appalled by the gore that surrounded them. Director Karan Lalit Bhutani’s Phamous bases its story on the latter. It tries to capture the violence and rebellion that came with the rise of thugs in Chambal. But due to the complete absence of a story-telling rhythm accompanied by a shockingly incoherent screenplay, this tale proves to be an utter disappointment.
Set in the rugged ravines of Chambal, Phamous follows the rivalry between four men. Shambu (Jacky Shroff) is seen as a man with an overwhelming need for vengeance. In his efforts to protect his daughter from the sleazy Kadak Singh (Kay Kay Menon), Shambu accidentally kills her on her wedding day. He now awaits an opportunity to avenge his daughter’s death. Kadak Singh, a power-hungry goon with a strong inclination towards guns is an ally to a local politician Ram Vijay Tripathi (Pankaj Tripathi) whose libido is always sky-high. Forced to be associated with these men is the introvert, Radhe Shyam (Jimmy Sheirgill) who is unable to turn down Kadak’s affection towards him. The emerging rivalry between these four men, moments of bonding and the thirst for blood that consumes them forms the crux of the story.
The central story of Phamous is age old. This particular Indian thug’s revenge drama has been explored so much that it will not interest people unless the director decides to bring in a fresher perspective. Unfortunately, Director Karan Lali Bhutani never does. He takes us through a story that revolves around the done and dusted aspects of forced marriages and masochistic culture with fragile egos.
What is all the more disappointing is the incoherent manner in which the director decides to take the story forward. After establishing the misogyny and greed of these characters, the story takes us through a crucial point where Shyam must choose between his wife and power. This twist in the tale becomes predictable merely thirty minutes into the film.
Moreover there are many inconsistencies in the screenplay as well. Characters appear and disappear at their own will. Many unnecessary sub-plots get weaved into the tale creating more confusion. By the time you get through the first half, you begin to feel restless. Not even the gigantic guns these characters carry around are enough to create tension in a plot that is this lifeless.
It is disappointing to note that despite being backed by a talented cast, Phamous fails to lift off the ground. As Ram Vijay Tripathi, Pankaj Tripathi delivers such an earnest performance. He slips into the shoes of his character and performs with utmost conviction. Stellar actors like Kay Kay Menon and Jimmy Sheirgill too do the best they can to salvage whatever is left of this shoddy film.
The characterization of women in Phamous and the roles they play are disgraceful and forgettable. Mahie Gill, Shriya Saran and Brijendra Kala are wasted in a film whose purpose of enlisting female characters is just to use them as disposable toys or easily available elements to drive the action forward. Shriya Saran’s character is especially half-baked. It lies under-utilized and completely disconnected from the rest of the film.
One of the biggest and most obvious inconsistencies in the film is the fact that even though Radhe Shyam grows up none of the other characters even age a day. In a serious film, doesn’t such a loophole speak of the team’s carelessness?
One of the most outdated aspects of the film is its technical caliber. The editing is wildly inconsistent. The visuals and art direction take you back to a period when Bollywood had access to limited technical advancements and had to make do with what was available. But considering the booming technical market these days, the outdated, bland and lifeless visuals of Phamous make you wonder why the visual quality of such a serious film is so undeniably poor.
On the whole, Phamous is outdated, petty and simply bland. This tale of revenge lacks a fresh and exciting perspective that could’ve possibly spruced it up. Even if one had enough time, why would they want to waste it on old wine in a broken bottle?