Close on the heels of Why Cheat India comes another movie set around the education mafia. And just like the Emraan Hashmi starrer, it’s not very good.
Director Ashwini Chaudhary’s Setters adopts a heist thriller’s tone to depict the practice of paid proxies and leaked question papers facilitated by a scamming service in Varanasi whose network extends all across India as Apurva (Shreyas Talpade), right hand man to the ill-tempered creep (Pavan Malhotra) running the business, travels between Mumbai and Delhi to get the job done.
Hot on their trail is local cop Aditya Singh (Aftab Shivdasani) instructed by his superior to end the racket.
Apurva and Aditya, we are informed, are old friends who appeared for their IAS exams together until they had a falling out over a common love interest. It’s a worthless bit of information considering the conflict is completely synthetic and the duo shares zero emotional connection.
Both assemble a ragtag team of able actors (Vijay Raaz, Manu Rishi, Neeraj Sood, Anil Mange) in throwaway parts and a tedious game of cat and mouse ensues against the mandatory cacophony of blaring guitar and ticking clock.
It’s all rather Special 26 but only because characters walk, walk, walk and vanish within the backstreets and corridors of crowded markets and private lanes. The scenario repeats itself so frequently in the narrative; two hours turn into monotonous slog.
Setters‘s biggest undoing is its sloppy, simplistic and full-of-loopholes writing. While the motivations and disenchantment of its characters remains vague till its abrupt end, the ease with which the break-ins and deception happen is shoddy to say the least.
Out of nowhere, a gizmo-peddling chap arrives with gadgets straight out of a 007 movie, mobile rings, scanner glasses, what not.
Even if Setters shows no inclination to understand the dark desperation that drives parents to buy marks for undeserving children, it could’ve made a little more effort to be sly or suspenseful.
Also, for a U-rating, Setters is oddly gruesome. A finger is chopped off and smacked on another man’s palm; a lady cop grabs a man’s crotch and gives it the third degree.
Most unpleasant though is Pavan Malhotra’s hamming, hysterical performance as a kurta and lungi-clad goon juggling religious devoutness and implicit kinky tendencies. Wearing a kurta two sizes too small, it’s hard to decide what’s flaring more — his chest or his nostrils.
Shreyas Talpade and Aftab Shivdasani fare better, but not enough to salvage this dubious looking tripe.
Whatever restraint or spark Setters demonstrated in its initial stages is tossed out of the window to crash into an untidy mess of snarling evil and tame virtue.