Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Kriti Sanon in top form in 'Crew', out in UAE cinemas now Image Credit: IMDB

'Crew,’ a tale of three cash-strapped and salary-deprived airhostesses turning to the world of gold smuggling and robbery, makes for a sporadically engaging watch primarily due to the lead trio of seasoned actresses. Charismatic talents Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Kriti Sanon take this bumpy black comedy with some audacious twists off the ground with great dexterity.

This is an example of a perfectly cast heist comedy where three sassy women are driving the narrative forward.

Turning to illegal activities like smuggling and evading being caught by the police is usually a domain reserved for brawny men, but to see a bunch of feisty women turn to morally unscrupulous tasks because of the flawed capitalist system is a refreshing change. Tabu, Khan, and Sanon, who play Geeta Sethi, Jasmine, and Divya Rana, start off as earnest and hardworking air stewardesses for a financially decaying airline called Kohinoor. But the company isn’t doing dazzling well and hasn’t paid their staff for several months. Their seemingly benevolent boss, Vijay Walia (a playful nod to the tainted Kingfisher Airlines tycoon Vijay Mallya played to perfection by Saswata Chatterjee), keeps promising his employees to make good on their delayed compensation but files for bankruptcy, leaving thousands of his employees financially strapped. But these women, through a stroke of a freak accident, stumble upon a scheme to make some quick buck by becoming gold mules. Their job, apart from being efficient cabin crew, is to smuggle gold during their work trips. They come up with a not-so-ingenious plan of carting gold by melting them into chocolate balls.

Their plan is definitely amateur and easy to detect, but the customs – led by Diljit Dosanjh's team who incidentally holds a torch for Sanon’s character Divya – are unable to pin them down. And that’s precisely where the movie stumbles and falters. How do these three women – whom we grow to like immensely – escape scrutiny by the authorities when their plans are hardly foolproof?

Three women, who work as cabin crew for a decaying airline, comes up with a quick-rich play in 'Crew' starring Kareena Kapoor, Tabu, and Kriti Sanon

While we appreciate the frivolous and frothy tone of this women-led film, it’s impossible to ignore the major holes in the twists. But what works is the collective camaraderie and bonhomie among the three flawed and fabulous women. The good-looking trio are in top form and their bond as peers who are fed up with their middle-class existence seems organic and covetable. The scenes underlining their desperate kinship are the highlights of this zippy movie. While Tabu and Kapoor, relatively more experienced than Kriti Sanon in acting experience, get the acerbically witty lines, Sanon also does a neat job of holding her own against these towering talents.

But if I had to pick favorites then Tabu as this gang leader who calls the shots had my heart. Her backstory of being the dominant earning member after her rich husband (Kapil Sharma) falls into hard times leaves a lasting impression. A telling scene where her husband laments about not being the sole provider for his family financially also underlines how subtly they try to destroy gender roles of the men being the savior. Kareena Kapoor Khan, who had a troubled childhood and was raised by her doting grandfather, is unapologetically materialistic and self-centered. It’s a relief to see working women who are occasionally harried and harassed not being put on a pedestal in a Bollywood comedy. Sanon, a trained pilot who ends up only securing a job as cabin crew, finds herself lying to her parents about the nature of her job because being a cabin crew member is considered relatively more menial than being a pilot, making her story relatable to many.

These women are the biggest strength. Kriti Sanon, Tabu, and Kareena Kapoor Khan in 'Crew'

Another strong point about this film is that the women don’t seem to try too hard to come across as best friends. A confrontation scene in which they have a fallout seems natural and well-played.

But this black comedy, a Bollywood equivalent of the highly engaging series ‘Good Girls’ where a bunch of suburban moms take up money laundering, is fun in parts. But there are plot points in the second half that are highly improbable. The ease with which these fresh-off-the-boat criminals track down their rich and unscrupulous boss demands that you suspend belief and your common sense.

Be warned, the movie lags in between but then picks up speed. Cameos by Diljith Dosanjh, Rajesh Sharma, and Saswata Chatterjee are effective, but it's the women who do the heavy lifting. While we can't forget that they are essentially criminals, their endearing personalities make you forget the gravity of their crime.

The not-so-subtle brand endorsements of cosmetic and hospitality companies, woven jarringly into the script, also doesn't land smoothly. 

Watch this if you are in the mood for a movie that really doesn’t tap into its full potential of being a great black comedy, but its actors make you forget those flaws.

Gulf News Rating:
Film: Crew

Language: Hindi

Director: Rajesh Krishna

Cast: Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kriti Sanon, Diljith Dosanjh, and Rajesh Sharma

Stars: 3 out of 5

Don't Miss It!

'Crew' is out in UAE cinemas now