craze | director: Kanishk Verma
mold: Vidyut Jamwal, Neha Dhupia, Rukmini Maitra, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Kiran Karmarkar
Period: 2 hours | Language: Hindi | Rating: 1
Like most action heroes, Vidyut Jammwal’s distinctive physicality gives him away. There are only a few professions that seem believable to their characters in movies. Villain, commando, ex-commando, ex-commando-spy, you get the drift? Therefore, it is difficult to keep a straight face when his most recent film introduces him as a mixed martial arts (MMA) trainer. Kanishk Verma’s Craze is quite another film in which Jamwal puts physical toughness front and center. Does it do anything unexpected with it? Not necessary.
Light action franchises have always been a norm in film industries around the world, even across ages. But it’s only a recent phenomenon where producers (mainly action directors) have started making these bare-bones action films that deftly break down the tropes of the genre, and challenge audience expectations. Jamwal’s films fall into this category, but they lack one key element: personality. Most of these franchises rest on the shoulders of charismatic stars who have spent a lifetime cultivating a fan-base with their tics. Whether it’s Jackie Chan’s mindless routine of escaping a fight, or Keanu Reeves’ sad face and few words, that speaks volumes more than entire feature films. Jamwal’s shallow and tough personality has proved to be a hindrance between him and the nation’s fame. Maybe, that’s why the makers have felt the need to give *some* texture to Jammwal’s overall bland screen-presence to give him a nationalist zeal or a love-story-all odds.
Trying both on a whim. Setting the stakes early, they burden the plot with a young woman (Rukmini Maitra) with a rare medical condition. She needs immediate surgery, and her husband Vivaan (Jamwal) needs to arrange Rs 70 lakhs quickly. Even as a cliché, one imagines that financial hardship would probably result in Vivaan holding the hospital hostage for his wife’s surgery, in true dogue day afternoon-meets-John Q fashion. We have seen a version of this in Anubhav Sinha’s Tathastu (2006), where Sanjay Dutt played the role of a desperate parent. However, it is too much to expect Jamwal to play the role of an unhappy life partner. Therefore, the makers removed any complications and focused on making Die Hard (1995) easy to replicate.
Several mercenaries enter the hospital where Vivaan’s girl is about to be in complete trouble. It turns out, there is a high-value criminal (Kiran Karmakar) in the same hospital, and a plan is made to get him out. Just the problem… Vidyut Jammwal’s biceps have already entered the building. In true John McClain-from-the-red fashion, Jamwal breaks neck, bones, at one point tossing a yoga ball. Despite his less-than-deserving credentials as an MMA trainer, we know Jamwal is going to be able to take down scores of highly skilled hired guns (which it sounds like). Of course, he will. This is not the kind of film that takes too many chances.
On the part of the makers, a big decision is to cast Chandan Roy Sanyal as the ‘Captain’ of the mercenaries. The severely underrated and underutilized Sanyal, whom we have seen sporadically since coming out as Mikhail in Kamini (2009), knows a thing or three about turning on the villain inside him. Is. That ‘Time to Tango!’ such as uttering phrases. with relish. There’s an almost self-awareness in the way he plays mind games with his captors. “Our budget is low. I hope you will cooperate with us, and not increase our budget,” he warns his hostages in a very real way. Through no fault of Sanyal’s own, he is not shown to be a particularly bright adversary. How can one explain a civilian taking down more than 20 ex-military personnel alone while their leader just sits and waits. He is allowed to kill with a blow, but is arguably left out for a while in the film.
Speaking of sit-and-wait, Neha Dhupia stars in a scintillating cameo where, in a no-nonsense, action-speak-out-loud-of-words ACP, she does remarkably little. Ironically, most of her screen time is spent inside the building interacting with an unknown citizen (Jamwal).
Some might feel that I am being too harsh here, but how the producers incorporate the title of the film into the actual film tells us a lot. No bad film can hide behind dialogues where the title of the film is repeated four times in three separate lines in a span of two minutes.
Despite basking in the evergreen premise for an action film, Sunak eventually finds out. Vidyut Jammwal does whatever he can (which is a bit out of the 18 forms of martial arts), but that’s not enough to meet our expectations as to which direction the film is headed. Just to be sure, the makers slip in a few lines for the martyred jawans of the country. Given the circumstances, it’s easy to see this as a sign of a needy, confident film hidden beneath a formidable 56-inch chest.