Film: “Phamous”; Director: Karan Lalit Bhutani; Cast: Jimmy Sheirgill, Kay Kay, Pankaj Tripathi, Jackie Shroff, Shriya Saran, Mahie Gill; Rating: **
Motivated by the modus operandi of how to become “phamous” — to be or not to be is a choice or dilemma for Radhe (Jimmy Sheirgill), a simpleton living in the Chambal Valley. This does not come out strikingly clear in Karan Lalit Bhutani’s directorial venture.
“Phamous” is a simple story of Radhe’s journey. He is a sincere student who is infatuated with his Rosie teacher (Mahie Gill). He is also in awe of the gun wielding, local politician Kadak Singh (Kay Kay).
By happenstance, Kadak Singh is indebted to Radhe who saves him from the police’s clutches when he was summoned as a witness to identify a killer.
Meanwhile, another politician, an accomplice of Kadak Singh, Ram Vijay Tripathi (Pankaj Tripathi) who is high on his libido, rapes and murders Rosie teacher.
From thence, Radhe has a grouse against Tripathi. It is only when Tripathi focuses his attention on Radhe’s wife Lalli (Shriya Saran) that Radhe is forced to train his guns on Tripathi. What ensues by default is the battle of supremacy which comes across as too blithe.
Technically, the film is astutely mounted with moderate production values. Told in a non-linear manner, the graph of the plot appears manufactured. The film starts off on a dramatic note and stagnates on an even keel. It picks up momentum just minutes before the interval and again plateaus till the climax, which again is perfunctory. Never are there moments of high octane drama or nail biting thrills.
The writing definitely lacks depth and finesse. The dialogues, spoken in the local dialect, have stray gems that spurt out at unexpected moments, but that’s that. Humour and sarcasm makes the process so relaxed that the stakes, while always present and consistently absorbing, fail to seem insurmountable.
Also, what probably does not work for the film are the abrupt scenes. Each scene is brilliant, but in silos, disconnected with the next, it gives you an essence of the narrative but does not bring to life the engrossing tale that is supposed to be told. Calling these scenes masterpieces is reductive. They are inspiringly unapologetic tributes to resourcefulness and ingenuity.
The lead actors Kay Kay, Pankaj Tripathi and Jimmy Sheirgill walk through their roles. Mahie Gill and Shriya Saran hardly have any scenes to boast about. In a sub-plot working as deux-ex-machina, Jackie Shroff as Shambu Dada a disgruntled dad seeking revenge, is wasted.
The music and background score befits the genre and overall, the film gives you a feel of a B-grade potboiler of the 1980s.
By Troy Ribeiro