A decade ago, when he played encounter specialist Sadhu Agashe in Shimit Amin’s slick Ab Tak Chhappan for the first time, he realised this virtue to its fullest potential revealing a refined facet of his real, rough persona.
At 64, he steps into the maverick cop’s shoes for a sequel, helmed by stunt director Aejaz Gulab, relying on his instincts to ginger up an unexceptional script. I don’t doubt Gulab’s regard for the original (and its drumstick references) but he’s completely out of his league as far as the generic follow up is concerned.
Gone is the crisp pace, the gritty gyaan, the deadpan violence, the crucial parallels of a cop’s personal and professional extremes that distinguished Ab Tak Chhappan from other films of its genre, an approach seen as recent as Rani Mukerji’s Mardaani. This one’s full of muted expletives, a crummy reproduction of the cat-and-mouse phone calls between cop and crook, cheap production values and crotch-obsessed low camera angles.
Gulab labours to establish the need for Agashe’s comeback — the first fifteen minutes of the sequel are dedicated to convincing the Goa-retired vigilante how his return is the only way Mumbai’s police force can save face and curb down increasing crime rates.
Agashe, I don’t blame him, is comfortable around his blissfully bucolic setting – frying fish in an open air kitchen, playing marbles with local kids, paddling a boat in unpolluted waters and slicing off fibrous coconuts for tender malai. He’s a lot more sociable around his son Aman (same kid all grown up, Tanmay Jahagirdar) now; they bond over piano and omelettes in indifferently written scenes.
It takes just a lame ‘my dad is a cop not fisherman’ prodding from Aman to propel Agashe back in business. This time a surly Ashutosh Rana fills in for Yashpal Sharma’s jealous junior while wheelchair-bound Raj Zutshi is at the receiving end of Patekar’s telephonic barbs. They’re the comic relief in this drivel.
Gul Panag plays a bespectacled crime reporter in blue shirts, jeans and smoky eyes – it’s the most uniform aspect of her performance. Dilip Prabhavalkar and Vikram Gokhale round up as khaki-clad politicians.
You know where this is going already, don’t you? Sadly, Ab Tak Chhappan 2 is so terribly obvious in its deviousness, there’s not even a smidgen of surprise to expect.
Nana Patekar tries to hold it all together with an alacrity and prudence that deserves a Denzel Washington framework but keeping his head high is the best he can do in the face of predictable easy targets and turncoats. It’s time to stop keeping score.