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      Utt Pataang - Review

      I've often said that 'small' or low cost films, very often, have much more to offer than several biggies that thrive on star value primarily; content is a secondary issue for these films. Ticket paying audiences insist on watching good films and that's where a strong word of mouth plays a vital part these days. Positive feedback can lure viewers even after the crucial opening weekend is over. Films like Tere Bin Laden, Udaan, Do Dooni Chaar, Phas Gaye Re Obama and Band Baaja Baaraat endorse this statement.

      I genuinely believe that the audience for hi-content films is multiplying with each passing week. The viewer is willing to give his/her precious time and invest his/her hard-earned money on a film with substance, which only goes to prove yet again that content is the backbone of business, the low cost or absence of top stars notwithstanding. The day of the underdog has finally arrived.

      In the 1970s, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee popularized comedy films. The trend was carried forward by Sai Paranjpye. Early 1990s saw the emergence of David Dhawan, Priyadarshan and Anees Bazmee proving their mettle with slapstick. First-time director Srikanth V. Velagaleti merges comedy with thrill elements in his debut outing Utt Pataang and the experiment succeeds to a major extent.

      Utt Pataang is a difficult film to conceptualize, pen and also execute. Besides, it requires seasoned players - known for their abilities to deliver natural performances - to get the characters right. Utt Pataang isn't one of those films that tell you to leave your brains at home. On the contrary, this one demands your complete attention. Blink an eyelid and you would miss out on a vital sequence and the narrative thereafter would only get difficult to decipher.

      Utt Pataang is a smart film, which gradually sucks you into its world. What sets it apart from comic-thrillers is the fact that the entire drama takes place in a single night. At first, you wonder, hey, what happened to Saurabh Shukla? Where did he disappear from the restaurant? Then you wonder, why is Vinay Pathak's girlfriend Mahie Gill desperate to have her belongings? Much later you question, who is that look-alike of Vinay Pathak and what is he doing in his apartment? But you get your answers in the post-interval portions and the rejoinders only highlight how intelligent the screenplay is and how efficient the director has been, in terms of keeping you hooked all through those 1.50 hours.

      Final word? If out of the box themes are your choice, head for Utt Pataang right away. This one's no Utt Pataang film in the name of entertainment!

      Utt Pataang talks of incidents that occur in one night. Vinay Pathak is on the brink of a break up, caught in a dangerous money deal gone horribly wrong. Caught in this chase for the bagful of money is his private detective friend Saurabh Shukla, a heartbroken woman [Mona Singh], a French-obsessed gangster [Vinay Pathak, again] and the gangster's moll [Mahie Gill], all thrown into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse chase. Layers of secrecy unfold and the game gets worse as the night wears on.

      For any comic-thriller to succeed, it ought to clear the doubts -- in the most simplistic manner, mind you - before the film reaches the finale. The screenplay [writers: Saurabh Shukla and Srikanth V. Velagaleti] is almost perfect, except for an instance towards the second half. The best part about this film is that barring the simpleton Vinay Pathak, everyone has a crooked/shady side to him/her, which makes them appear very real. In fact, each one is double crossing the other and that's why you feel ecstatic.

      The screenplay writers and director complement each other wonderfully well. If the writing is watertight, the direction is top notch. In fact, the writing would've gone for a toss had a lesser director wielded the megaphone. Arun Varma's cinematography captures the look of the film well. I'd like to give brownie points to the editor [Sankalp Meshram] for the sharp edit. Sanjoy Chowdhary's background score enhances the impact. Saurabh Shukla's dialogue are realistic.

      Vinay Pathak proves yet again that he's a super actor. Though he's getting typecast as a simpleton, the other role - with a French fixation - is what catches your attention. Also, he gets the French accent and pronunciation right. Saurabh Shukla is remarkable all through. Mahie Gill springs a surprise. She plays a con woman who's emotionless, who's lusting for money most convincingly. Mona Singh does very well. Sanjay Mishra doesn't get much scope. Brijendra Kala is okay. Delnaaz Paul is cute. Murli Sharma and Govind Namdeo appear towards the finale. Both are perfect. Kurush Deboo is fair.

      On the whole, Utt Pataang springs a pleasant surprise. It has a novel premise and what makes it even more appealing is the way the subject material has been executed. In fact, it's a difficult film to conceptualize, pen and also execute and should be appreciated by those who have an appetite for out of the box themes.

      Director: Srikanth V. Velagaleti

      Cast: Vinay Pathak, Mahie Gill, Saurabh Shukla, Mona Singh, Sanjay Mishra, Brijendra Kala, Govind Namdeo

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