Players makes for dull viewing

MUMBAI: The search for subjects for films seems to be getting more and more desperate as producers and directors take recourse to sequels and remakes of old movies, regional movies as well as foreign movies. Players, in this event, is inspired by a Hollywood caper movie, The Italian Job (made twice; 1969 and 2003) where a bunch of specialists form a team to steal a cache of World War I-era gold worth billions.  

Producer: Burmawala Partners, Viacom 18 Motion Pictures.
Director: Abbas Mustan.
Cast: Abhishek Bachchan, Bobby Deol, Bipasha Basu, Sonam Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Sikander Kher, Omi Vaidya, Johny Lever, Vinod Khanna.

But  Players is what happens when a star is expected to make up for everybody and everything else, including the script!

Abhishek Bachchan is a master criminal specialising in high value heists. He next wants to rob a train carrying gold from under the nose of the Russian army, which is escorting this special train. As in all such films, he needs a team of experts in various skills. Vinod Khanna, a past master at heists, helps him put the team together. On board come Bobby Deol, a magician; Sikander Kher, an explosives expert; Bipasha Basu, an automobile wizard who can attach turbo rocket jets to an age old train engine and make it fly on tracks (!); Neil Nitin Mukesh, a computer hacker; and Omi Vaidya, a gifted make-up and get-up ace. Also on standby are Sonam Kapoor, also a computer hacker and Johny Lever, who can devise and put together any kind of vehicle on four wheels.

The team embarks on the job by hiring a train which runs parallel to the gold-laden train and the heist is successful. Going by heist movie guidebook, it is time for twists and turns and breakups as well as betrayals. One of the team members has greed greater than his due share in the loot and he attempts to finish the rest of the team and vanish. The latter part is all about one-upmanship and getting the gold back.

Both Hollywood versions of The Italian Job had a running time of between 100 and 110 minutes, Players is stretched to 2 hours 30 minutes and this is its first drawback. Secondly, the extensive planning stages and computer mumbo-jumbo, which not many cine-goers care for, also makes for dull viewing. The ultimate major problem is the star cast, which comprises those lacking draw at the box office, are not quite capable of carrying off two and a half hours of drama, and lack of excitement or enthusiasm they show carrying out the job.

Yes, the film has great visuals and finesse as well as well-executed action and stunt sequences but the credit for these goes neither to the writers nor the director duo. Whatever is left to them is nothing much to write home about. Songs in the film are not only bad; they could easily have been dispensed with. Editing is so slack as to be non-existent. Of the technical aspects, cinematography deserves mention. In the cast, the one who does best and helps hold the film together in parts is Johny Lever, a fact which says a lot about the others. Abhishek Bachchan, Bobby Deol, Bipasha Basu and Sonam go about their parts routinely. Neil Nitin Mukesh tries but lacks in varying his expressions. Omi Vaidya is okay. Sikander Kher looks sincere in his efforts. Vinod Khanna has little to do.

Players is a case of just about everything going wrong with a film, from script and execution to casting and public response.

There is an age old belief in the industry that films released on the first Friday of a new year always flop and Players may continue that myth.

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