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A Rajkumar Santoshi film is special. Irrespective of how his films fare at the box-office, there's no denying that the master storyteller has proved his abilities in varied genres such as Ghayal, Andaz Apna Apna, Damini, Ghatak, Barsaat, China Gate, Pukar, Lajja, The Legend of Bhagat Singh and Khakee.
Santoshi's latest endeavor Family - Ties of Blood holds significance for two vital reasons:- One, Santoshi's repertoire is truly impressive.
Two, the supremely gifted storyteller teams up with the country's biggest and most versatile actor, Amitabh Bachchan, yet again [after Khakee].
Obviously, the expectations are monumental. Family - Ties of Blood isn't an ordinary film...
But unlike Santoshi's earlier attempts, specifically Ghayal and Ghatak, his latest endeavor falls short of expectations. Without trying to beat around the bush, let's get to the bottom of the problem[s]:-
[i] The premise of the film -- the conflict between two families -- is as old as the hills. Besides, Santoshi tries to place Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather in the Indian milieu, but it lacks the hammer strong impact associated with the genre.
[ii] The storytelling is highly erratic. In fact, the problem with the film, besides the predictability factor, is that it appeals in parts, not in entirety. A few fascinating moments aren't enough, a project ought to keep the viewer's attention arrested from start to end.
In a nutshell, Family - Ties of Blood is a terrible letdown in terms of script and execution. Coming from someone who was actually a trendsetter in the early 1990s, it's indeed sad to note that he's become a trend-follower now, since Family - Ties of Blood constantly gives you a been-there-done-that kind of a feeling.
Clearly, this vendetta fare comes across as a half-hearted effort from Santoshi!
Family - Ties of Blood tells the story of two families, that of Viren Sahai [Amitabh Bachchan] and Shekhar Bhatia [Akshay Kumar] -- two worlds totally different from each other. How these diametrically opposite worlds collide with catastrophic consequences forms the crux of the story.
A brief about the two families: Viren, a dreaded don, operates from Bangkok. His family, comprising of his wife [Shernaz Patel], son [Sushant Singh], daughter-in-law, daughter and grandson, live in Mumbai. That's primarily because Viren's wife doesn't agree with his despicable activities.
The other family is that of Shekhar, who lives with his parents [Anjan Srivastava, Bharti Achrekar], wife [Bhumika Chawla] and brother [Aryeman]. They are a typical middle class family: Shekhar is a chef by profession, his wife is a doctor, while the younger brother has tried his hand at various jobs, including running a cyber cafÉ.
The story takes a turn when Shekhar gets killed by Viren. Unable to bear the shock of his caring brother, Aryan kidnaps Viren's family with his bunch of friends. He is now thirsting for Viren's blood. The battlelines are drawn...
The problem with Family - Ties of Blood clearly lies in its screenplay [Rajkumar Santoshi, Shridhar Raghavan], which follows a predictable path from start to end. And what adds to the woes is that the by-now-famous Santoshi stamp is clearly missing in the enterprise.
As writers, Santoshi and Raghavan place three songs one after the other in the first 30 minutes, besides defining the character sketch of the important players at the outset. But post Akshay's demise, what emerges is a typical vendetta fare.
A number of sequences do catch your attention. The kidnapping of Bachchan's family, especially that of Sushant Singh, is deftly executed, although the ease with which the remaining family is abducted makes you wonder if the most wanted don's family is so powerless, helpless and vulnerable.
Another sequence that stays with you is the one in the mansion, which has been sealed by the government machinery. Bachchan decides to land up at the place, has flashes of the days when he lived there with his wife, while the abductors are actually hiding in the mansion. The entire track, right till Shernaz Patel being rushed to a hospital for treatment, is where the Santoshi touch is evident.
What takes away the impact, to a major extent, is the never-ending second half. The film goes on and on endlessly in the second hour, even though there are stages when you feel that the story could've easily culminated at several points. The sequences in the Crime Branch headquarters are not only stretched, but also make you wonder whether it's so easy to eliminate the officers within the complex with such ease. Cinematic liberty and how!
Besides the clichÉd and hackneyed script, Santoshi's direction doesn't do much to elevate the situation. The direction seems half-hearted this time, for how does one explain the erratic execution of the plot? Wasn't he motivated by the screenplay he wrote himself? Or has Santoshi adopted the laid-back attitude?
Ram Sampath's music is weak. Barring 'Katra Katra' [imaginatively filmed by Bosco-Caesar], the remaining numbers are just not happening. Ashok Mehta's cinematography is, as always, flawless. Dialogues [Santoshi, Tigmanshu Dhulia] are commonplace. The action scenes are routine.
The performances in Family - Ties of Blood are able, not extra-ordinary. If Bachchan was outstanding in Khakee, he's okay here. Surely, one expected more! Akshay Kumar is hardly there for 20 odd minutes and though he does quite well, he's getting repetitive nevertheless. Bhumika Chawla is slowly emerging into a terrific actress. Her sequence with Bachchan in the hospital is remarkable. Aryeman is raw and though he reminds you of Ajay Devgan [at places], he needs to polish his acting skills overall. It's too early for him to be pitted with stalwarts like Bachchan and Akshay.
Shernaz Patel is average. Sushant Singh goes over the top completely. The actor needs to be told that making faces is not what acting is all about. Kader Khan is as usual. Gulshan Grover and Raza Murad get no scope. Amongst the long list of actors who stand out are Anjan Srivastava and Sanjay Singh.
On the whole, Family - Ties of Blood is too ordinary a fare to create much of an impression. At the box-office, it may get the advantage of the holidays, but the mediocre script will make a dent in its business and curtail its business largely.