Nothing is more frustrating than being stuck on 99, where only one run can bring you glory or the lack of it can make all your hard work seem like a waste. The Laurel and Hardy of this Friday’s release 99 are stuck in a similar situation. The world is their playing field, and con is their game.
The year is 1999. Sachin ( Kunal Khemu ) and Zaramud ( Cyrus Broacha ) are the Laurel and Hardy of our story. They make fake SIM cards and are sucked into a bigger mess when they steal and crash a gangster’s Mercedes while running away from cops. To save their skin, the duo are forced to work for the ganglord AGM ( Mahesh Manjrekar ), who is a bookie and has a long list of people to recover his money from. In the list is Rahul ( Boman Irani ), a gambling addict always looking for ‘signs’ and ‘signals’ as favourable or unfavourable omens to bet or gamble his money, if he has any. AGM
sends Laurel and Hardy to Delhi to recover money from Rahul. Before the duo go about their dirty job, Laurel loses his heart to Pooja ( Soha Ali Khan ). Not just this, the two crooks also end up losing the money they forcibly recover from Rahul. Thereafter, begins a mad chase, where Laurel faces robust goons with fists and kicks, while the barrel of a Hardy spends most of his time in toilet, unloading himself of the butter chicken of previous night.
The director duo of Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K. must be lauded for making a refreshingly delightful film with ample funny moments. The humour in the film – expressed in situations and crispy dialogues – is not of the kind we see in typical Bollywood no-brainers. At times it’s witty, at times pure slapstick. Note that sequence about Delhi being a strange city where girls are either named Pooja or Neha, where it’s cold in March, where spoiled brats play loud music in cars, and where everyone is out to steal your stuff. All these things actually transpire in the unraveling of the plot.
Though the pace of the film slackens at few places, the performances by the cast keeps you hooked for most part of the film. Kunal Khemu is totally at ease playing his character while Cyrus Broacha goes over the top a few times. Boman Irani gets the meatiest role in the film and he slips convincingly into his character of an employee in a forex firm whose wife has left him because of his gambling addiction. Soha Ali Khan has a brief role and she plays it well. Mahesh Manjrekar is a delight to watch.
The most surprising of the lot is an actor named Amit Mistry who plays a pint-sized goon out to recover his money from Rahul. There’s also an impactful cameo by Vinod Khanna , as a cricket match fixer.
The film’s music and cinematography are top grade and not once do they hamper the story’s flow.
With its tight script, fine performances and refreshingly different story, ‘99’ turns out to be a total paisa vasool film not just for its characters but also for audiences.
Do give it a shot.