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‘Machine’ is ‘Baazigar’ rebooted

A cacophony of new and old, a selfish hero and a series of unfortunate events characterise this movie

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Machine’s hero doesn’t think twice before snuffing out lives on his mentor’s order.

Not much thought has gone into his behaviour. Ditto the action. It’s a role that Shah Rukh Khan mythologised in Baazigar, except for the fact that his cruel murders were perpetrated to avenge his father’s murder and mother’s humiliation.

Ransh, the hero as played by debutant Mustafa in Machine, seems to love only himself.

For a lengthy stretch of storytelling, co-directors Abbas-Mustan seem to be heading nowhere. There is an elaborately staged motorcar race at the beginning of the eventful plot, and another at the climax.

In-between the two accelerated events on the race-track everything that could possibly go wrong in a film, does. One witnesses characters who pop up as poor props for the anti-hero’s self-gratification.

By the time he is into the second act of his murderous ambitions (with Dalip Tahil reprising his role from Baazigar) one is left gawking at the gaping holes in the plot wondering who on earth could think up such a story of revenge, except as a form of revenge on the audience.

While debutant Mustafa has bravely chosen the antagonist’s role, another newcomer, Ehsan Shanker, plays the actual protagonist. Oddly Ehsan is given a double role. One of him dies when the other shows up.

In a film intended to launch a producer’s son, it seems foolishly generous to let another newcomer — and that too one with severely limited talent and screen presence — take over a large chunk of the proceedings.

It would be hard to find even one redeeming quality in this mish-mash of Abbas-Mustan’s thriller instincts from the 1990s. The performances scream for attention. Even the habitually reliable Ronit Roy is reduced to a cardboard cut-out shrieking for revenge like an impatient customer who’s had to wait too long for his pizza order.

Kiara Advani bears a passing resemblance to Madhuri Dixit and performs the emotional scenes earnestly.

The songs, usually so snazzy in Abbas-Mustan’s cinema are a tone-deaf cacophony that mixes the new and the retro.

The locations in Georgia are easy on the eyes, provided the camera rests at one place for more than three seconds.

In the second-half, Abbas-Mustan’s favourite comic relief hero Johnny Lever shows up as a police officer investigating a murder.