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Lucknow Central  : Imprisoned By A Weak Case
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Friday, September 15, 2017
Crime
Ranjit Tiwari
Farhan Akhtar, Diana Penty, Ronit Roy, Gippy Grewal.

A few weeks ago, a big banner like YRF rolled out Qaidi Band which vanished as soon as it was released.

 

One went with higher expectations to watch a similarly-themed Lucknow Centralsince a more saleablename like Farhan Akhtar was in the central role.

 

But very soon, one felt like breaking free from the theatre. Much like the prisoners led by aspiring musician Kishen want to do on Independence Day.

 

The story which is jointly credited to director Ranjit Tiwari and screenplay writer Aseem Arora makes a worthy plot for taut and thrilling cinema that touches upon reformation of prisoners.

 

But the weak screenplay turns a substantial story into an experience that’s like a jail sentence.

 

The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh decides to hold an inter-jail music competition at Lucknow Central this year. The IGP is reluctant, the jailor is rigid and ruthless and thinks criminals don’t need reformation.

 

Thwarted musician Kishen who’s in there on a weakly-argued murder charge, promises NGO worker Gayatri that he’ll soon have a band going in the jail premises.

 

When Kishen enters Lucknow Central, he’s given a set of necessities and right on top is a packet of condoms. The jailor’s introduction to Kishen also holds the promise of a thriller and you settle down for a gripping narration with unexpected turns. But the jail soon slides into resembling a boys’ hostel with petty fights and shifting loyalties and nothing really chilling happening out there.

 

The jailor too, does little except snort through his nostrils with a cheek full of paan.

 

The coming together of Kishen and four other inmates is interesting but the build-up of the motley group into a rocking music band should really have been more believable. At no stage does it go beyond being weakly comic to justify their knockout performance in the finale.

 

There are other occasional touches of humour that are acceptable like the Chief Minister played by Ravi Kishen who’s not really a monster mantri but puts the men in uniform in place with a chuckle.

 

But there’s a general inconsistency in the narration, the main reason being the way it meanders loosely and loses its tautness. Kishen the musician becomes the man with flying fists and hard punches. The jailor makes their music video go viral to stop them from playing which is curious. Why would anything in today’s world that goes viral and gets wide appreciation be looked at as an impediment?

 

Their escape has some thriller moments but not much cleverness as the jailor being distracted or called away by the Minister at the nth moment is repeated. One also knows that the band that wants to escape instead of performing has little waiting for it outside. So the thrill of the escape is diluted. And Kishen’s reprieve comes rather abruptly.

 

The film also required chartbusting music.

 

NGO worker Gayatri played by Diana Penty doesn’t have plenty to do except to register as the mandatory female presence in a male setting.

 

Most of the supporting cast like Rajesh Sharma and Deepak Dobriyal do their bit with efficiency. But the unevenness in Farhan Akhtar’s character and the inability to hold the interest of the viewer right through, doesn’t endear him as Kishen.

 

For a film that’s like an ineptly-argued legal case,Lucknow Central gets a 2* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author 
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