Film >Shootout at Lokhandwala
This shockingly violent and bloody Bollywood import somehow manages to squeeze a handful of song-and-dance numbers, but with all its magazine-emptying shootouts, it seems much more intent on maximizing its kill count. Glamorizing – no, fetishizing – gunplay and gang warfare, Shootout is the latest in a series of darkly stylized Indian films aiming for both “maturity” and “relevance” … at least through the filter of CSI-style production techniques. Amitabh Bachchan is his usual regal self in something of a minor role, leaving the heavy lifting to Sanjay Dutt, as the morally ambiguous head of the Mumbai police force’s anti-terror squad, and Vivek Oberoi, as the thoroughly misanthropic (but devilishly handsome and well-coiffed) leader of the city’s most violent gang. Based on a true 1991 encounter between cops and gang members in one of the city’s residential complexes, Shootout obviously takes considerable liberty with its storyline (again, these are gangsters who have choreographers). What’s most intriguing is the unabashed glorification of these ruthless criminals and the rather desperate ineffectiveness of the officers; Indian censor boards are notoriously prickly about the way cops are represented in movies, and though, ultimately (and naturally), the “good” guys prevail here, it’s the goons who receive the most romantic treatment. This hollow, Reservoir Dogs imitation of attitude, combined with an over-the-top amount of gunfire and brutally intense physical violence, makes Shootout as troubling as it is surprising. But it also makes it one of the most realistic representations of the dangerous lawlessness that plagued the city in the early ’90s.