Most makers just talk of attempting hatke
stories. But, in actuality, only a tiny segment
practice what they preach. And those who walk
the untrodden path deserve not just laurels but
also need to be encouraged for swimming against
Sanjay Gupta's MUSAFIR is a shining example of
cinema that dares to be different, of going
against the set norms, of defying the rigid set
of laws of Bollywood formulaic films. In a way,
MUSAFIR reflects the transition of Hindi cinema,
the changing face of Indian cinema.
MUSAFIR is loosely based on Oliver Stone's
U-TURN [1997; Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Jennifer
Lopez, Billy Bob Thornton], but it's NOT a
scene-to-scene copy of the much-acclaimed flick.
In MUSAFIR, Gupta explores new territory, giving
the material a stark edge, innovation and a
thick, memorable atmosphere. In KAANTE, he
explored gambling, mistrust, deception, fraud,
money. This time around, it's an almost original
tale that's not contrived or recycled. In this
film, he delves into infidelity, incest, ill
luck, paranoia, mistrust, murder, deception,
fraud, money and the mafia. It's a feast for the
senses, as long as you have a strong stomach.
MUSAFIR scores on various levels. Not only is
its story different - a novel experience for
Indian moviegoers - even its making is several
notches above the ordinary. Provocative and
graphic, MUSAFIR examines the mind of several
immoral men - a lane not many 'play safe'
Bollywood film-makers would want to venture
Lucky [Anil Kapoor] had had enough of change.
From odd jobs to petty crimes. From home
addresses to jail addresses. He wanted a house
of his own… a family... a new beginning.
One last con-job, girlfriend [Koena Mitra] in
tow, sunset in background, and he would be well
on his way.
Twenty-four hours later, he's been betrayed by
his girlfriend, hunted by a drug lord [Sanjay
Dutt], orphaned by the death of his three
partners and sent to Goa to do a drug deal to
buy his life back.
Lucky pulls of a drug deal, chases a femme
fatale with a shocking past [Sameera Reddy],
manages to lose the drug lord's money yet again,
is hounded by a corrupt cop [Aditya Pancholi]
and gets offered the same amount by a perverted
husband [Mahesh Manjrekar], who offers him a
Under siege and racing the clock, a deadly
battle of wits ensues in a climax filled with
spiraling tension and volatile action.
The narrative moves in a serpentine fashion,
rarely proceeding in a predictable zone. Just
when you thought that Anil and Koena would
embark on an interesting journey at the very
start of the film, he's betrayed big time.
That's the first twist in the tale!
Anil reaches Goa, encounters Sameera, meets her
husband [Manjrekar], who in turn gives him an
outrageous and deplorable proposal: Eliminate
his wife Sameera. That's the second twist in the
Anil concludes the drug deal, is hounded by the
cop [Pancholi], hides the money in a
nearby-stationed cab and loses it all in a
matter of minutes… That's the third twist in the
Anil meets Manjrekar again, who renews his
proposal. Anil hears his side of the story. Then
he meets Sameera. Hears her side of the story as
well. Whose plan will he execute eventually? But
a bizarre, unanticipated development changes
everything… That's the fourth twist in the tale!
Anil and Sameera are on the run. The drug lord
is chasing Anil. He wants his money back. The
cop is chasing Anil and more specifically
Sameera. He wants his money back… That's the
fifth twist in the tale!
Gupta and his efficient team of screenplay
writers [Sameer Malhotra and Venita Coelho] have
populated MUSAFIR with not just a variety of
multi-dimensional characters, but also twists
and turns that are bound to come as a shocker to
the traditional Indian audiences who have grown
up on the staple diet of sugar-coated romances
and feel-good cinema. The characters in MUSAFIR
are as harsh as can be.
Any blemishes in an otherwise perfect film? Yes…
The pace drops in the post-interval portions.
Just when your heart is thumping hard and your
eyes are glued to the screen, comes a sad song
['Zindagi Mein Koi Kabhi Aaye Na Rabba'] and an
unwanted scene [Sameera's nightmare] and the
story comes to a screeching halt. It throws a
spanner in an otherwise absorbing screenplay.
The song in question is undoubtedly a brilliant
composition and its filming has an international
feel, but the song placement is all wrong. Who
wants to hum a song when life is on the edge?
When survival is so uncertain? This song should
be chopped off pronto, for it only acts as a
speed breaker in an otherwise exhilarating
Even the climax, although brilliantly executed,
is flawed. Why on earth would the money-crazy
drug lord [Billa] give away his money so easily,
when the story is all about Billa wanting his
money from Lucky? The film could've definitely
done with a better thought of ending.
Directorially, there's no denying that Sanjay
Gupta is a fantastic technician and of late, an
accomplished storyteller. MUSAFIR is the most
stylish film Bollywood has witnessed in 2004,
but MUSAFIR is not just style, but offers
substance as well. The content of the film may
come as a shocker for the conventional types or
those who haven't progressed beyond saas-bahu
Sex is another ingredient that Gupta uses
liberally in the film. It's raw, but smartly and
tastefully woven in the narrative. A feast for
the hoi polloi. Another area where Gupta wins
hands down is choosing the right lines for his
characters. The dialogues [Milap Zaveri], again
raw, have tremendous mass appeal and would be
loved by the viewers.
Vishal-Shekhar's music is another aspect that
deserves browny points. 'Ishq Kabhi Kariyo Na',
'Saaki Saaki' and 'Door Se Paas' are already
popular and when viewed with the story, the
appeal is only enhanced. In terms of
picturization, the Koena Mitra track, 'O Sharabi
Kya Sharabi - Saaki Saaki', is the most erotic
number the year has witnessed so far.
Cinematography [P.S. Vinod] is of international
quality. The black and white inserts, usage of
hand-held camera, vivid close-ups, zip-switches
from smooth to grainy, unique camera angles and
effects give the film a chic and modish look.
Action [Tinu Verma] is realistic and that works
greatly in a film like this.
MUSAFIR is embellished with some great
performances, but the film clearly belongs to
Anil Kapoor. No two opinions on that! The actor
ignites the screen with an authoritative
performance. It wouldn't be wrong to state that
the film signals the resurgence of this
extremely talented actor. His unshaven look, the
gamut of expressions, the effort that has gone
into this performance is exemplary. This is
without doubt his best performance so far!
Sanjay Dutt is not on the front seat this time,
but his character is the type that would draw
ceetees and taalis from the masses.
Yet, all said and done, the writers should've
focused more on Dutt in the post-interval
portions mainly. But the actor's screen presence
[note the sidelocks extending to his beard] will
prove one fashion statement in days to come.
Sameera Reddy is a revelation. The actress
handles a complex role with flourish and the
generous dose of skin show only act as a
topping. Mahesh Manjrekar emerges trumps yet
again in a Sanjay Gupta film. He is excellent!
Aditya Pancholi is first-rate; his mean look
gelling well with his character.
Koena Mitra has a great body and she has no
inhibitions when it comes to flaunting it. As an
actress, she's slightly awkward, but frankly,
this role doesn't demand histrionics, so it's
okay. Shakti Kapoor is wasted.
On the whole, MUSAFIR has style and substance.
At the box-office, the film has already taken a
flying start and a heady dose of violence and
sex, besides a catch-you-unaware plot, will take
it to the winning post.