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Six strangers are thrown together in a jail holding cell in L.A. All are Indian migrants who have either fallen foul of the law or are desperately short of cash. While sweating it out between interviews the group discuss plans to team up for a heist. Under the guidance of 'Major' (Amitabh Bachchan), a plan is hatched to rob the bank into which all police officers salaries are paid. Tough guys Aiju (Sanjay Dutt) and Marc (Sunil Shetty), computer expert Andy (Kumar Gourav), thinker Mak (Lucky Ali), crazy Baali (Mahesh Manjrekar) and the Major pull off the robbery, only to discover one of them is an informer. All six make it to a hideout where the deadly game of sniffing out the rat begins.

Review by Richard Kuipers:
Bollywood is the next big thing we're told and Kaante is one of a proposed 15 Indian films that will be released on Australian screens in the forthcoming year. Shot entirely in LA and loaded with flashy lighting, camera and post-production techniques, Kaante represents the most dedicated attempt yet to get westerners dancing to the Bollywood beat.

A remake of Reservoir Dogs with elements of Heat, The Usual Suspects and The Quick and The Dead thrown in, this crime-melodrama is fascinating from a cultural perspective even if it doesn't quite sustain its 150 minute running time. Essentially, this is a much less satisfactory reworking of 40s and 50s gangster movie stock elements than Tarantino's film but it does arrive with fully-fledged technical sophistication that will make many observers sit up and take notice.

Even if you find the use of yellow filters for all exterior shots extremely annoying (as I did), there's no denying the eye of director Sanjay Gupta as he puts his impressive cast through their paces. Amitabh Bachchan, who hosts the Indian version of 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire' and won the 'Superstar of the Millennium' award on a BBC (!) online poll, anchors the wildly melodramatic plot with calm dignity and Lucky Ali registers strongly as the contemplative one in the crew.

Elsewhere it's mostly macho heroics, with enough glimpses into personal lives to discover that just about everyone has a sick mother/wife/sister/girlfriend for whom they're prepared to shoot dead half the LAPD. Once the job goes wrong so does the drama. Unfortunately the barrage of accusations and too-rapidly shifting allegiances (you need a scorecard to keep count of who believes who) undermine proceedings and it drifts off into a thoroughly predictable finale. Although slightly disappointing, there's still enough to warrant a look at this ambitious project, particularly the song and dance sequences. There are only four songs - none are subtitled as, contrary to tradition, they do not advance the plot - with the boys' knockout routine in their hideout the standout.

While I didn't find this to be the 'delirious Bollywood remaining of Reservoir Dogs' as quoted on the poster, Kaante showed enough style to spark plenty of anticipation for Bollywood crossovers to come. Don't expect a revelation and you should enjoy this one.

Published January 22, 2004

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CAST: Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Sunil Shetty, Kumar Gaurav, Lucky Ali

DIRECTOR: Sanjay Gupta

SCRIPT: Sanjay Gupta, Milap Zaveri

RUNNING TIME: 150 minutes

PRESENTATION: anamorphic widescreen 16: 9; Language: Hindi/English 2.0; Subtitles: English



DVD RELEASE: November 25, 2003

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