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Raam Tarat

Published December 16th, 2005 | by Raam Tarat

Bluffmaster Review

Classification: 12 Director: Rohan Sippy Rating: 3.5/5

A funky satire of the highest order, with a little bit of pomp and a slight of arrogance.. but with the heir apparent of Hindi cinema – Abhishek – welcoming you with a warm handshake of humility, things go down oh so well.

Bluffmaster – as antiquated a saying as it may sound, is actually quite kitsch and contemporary in content and format, and to be taken in that vein. It tells the story of suave conman Roy. A man who sizes up his prey according to their vocations, likens them to fish, but takes care never to get his hands wet.

He is as cool as they come, a suave sophisticrat cruising around downtown Mumbai in his classic black Chevrolet. Roy’s other passion in life apart from scamming dimwits, is his girlfriend Simi (Chopra). One of his elaborate scams though backfires spectacularly and he loses his fiancé and his footing. With the opening sequences we see the confidence trickster work his charm and allure, and within a matter of minutes – it’s all gone. What to do…

Enter amateur swindle-hook Dittu (Deshmukh) with his equally inept sidey. Dittu endears himself to Roy in the most whimsical manner (or was it by default..) and he takes him under his wing, teaching him the art of conning with style but little conscience. With his love-life seemingly six feet under, he decides to take on Dittu’s cause, but has he bitten off more than he can chew?

After Sippy’s safe cum damp debut Kuch Naa Kaho (Don’t say a word) this comes as an unexpected yet welcome surprise. Peppy, intelligent and light, the screenplay is surprisingly taut. The film resonates a certain oomph, and the leads are directed with confidence. A bundle of fun, with style and verve, which manages to keep you encapsulated for the duration, and smiling for the ride.

What I like about this movie is it strives to be different; and the treatment is unique – subtle, seasoned, with a certain jazz about it. It has myriad sub-plots, the Roy-Simi liaison, the Chandru-Dittu frisson, Roy-Dittu’s relationship which reminds you of Batman and Robin – of the Adam West era… Other interesting characters include the bumbling Dr Bhalerao (Irani) delivering lessons on his philosophy of life, and how to live each day to the fullest – Eurrrgghhhhh… and goon turned hotelier Chandru (Patekar) playing a sardonic hoodlum who is the bane of our leads’ merry existence.

The screenplay by Sridhar Raghavan rocks, you only understand its true beauty by the climax which is unconventional, and some would say Fincher-esque. Sugar, I hope I didn’t give anything away there… It just keeps throwing things at you, takes a number of twists and turns, with a cheery concoction of drama and humour. The treatment is novel, from the opening song sequence of re-worked 70’s classic Sabse Bada Rupaiya [Money is Everything] with supermodels gyrating to “Come now, come now, everybody say now..” to the FX-astute intro sequences.

The characters are key in this slick tongue in cheek con caper; well defined, always with a glint in their eye and a cheeky smile, performed fabulously by the interesting cast of seemingly seasoned comedic stalwarts. Mumbai itself looks authentic, and plays well as one of the more seasoned characters in the movie.

Bachchan jive-talks his way through this movie, yet manages to turn in a measured and sensitive performance giving him ample scope to add credence to his new star status, and more importantly his genes. Chopra is pretty, Patekar increasingly typecast as ‘difficult’ and Deshmukh impresses with his ability to simultaneously be funny, endearing… and a con.

The musical interludes are fitting, especially when the calming strings kick-in for our leads’ on-going romance cum trauma… Ultimately an appropriated take on Argentinean smash Nine Queens [Nueve Reinas] this is cheeky as hell, audacious in many aspects – yet still we say: “More please Sir”. Energetic, fruity and fast-paced, Bluffmaster delivers a punch. Not quite a knockout, but it’ll go the distance.


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