'Maximum' stress on ones senses

MUMBAI: In his earlier film Saher, director Kabeer Kaushik took Hindi filmmaking to Lucknow and made a reasonably plausible film. Why the film did not work should have dawned on him though. In Maximum, he imports Lucknow to Mumbai and comes up with a film which has no beginning and an end which makes no sense, with two senior policemen shooting each other in the finale!

Producer: Vainteya Film Productions.
Director: Kabeer Kaushik.
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Sonu Sood, Neha Dhupia, Vinay Pathak, Mohan Agashe, Amit Sadh, Rajendra Gupta.

There are no preambles, no once upon a time. As the film Maximum opens, you have this trigger happy policeman, Sonu Sood, shooting at all and sundry with glee. But all cops are normal at home, so we get to meet his family. He has a doting wife (Neha Dhupia), a daughter who can‘t manage her shoelaces and a father (Rajendra Gupta) who adds pathos and human angle to the story by suddenly collapsing of a heart attack.

Whatever one can understand of the story in the film is that Sonu Sood is a be-all and end-all of cops. He is an encounter specialist of the post-2003 police force of Mumbai and everybody, from fellow cops to politicians to underworld goons to starlets, is scared of him because he has a license to kill and no explanations are sought. He has but one adversary in Naseeruddin Shah, another senior encounter specialist, who wants to be in the place Sonu Sood enjoys. Both have a lobby supporting them, either within the police force or among politicians and builders. Finally, both end up shooting each other at, of all the places, Valsad railway station in Gujarat. The maker has a fascination with trains or probably that is how he defines the pace of life in Mumbai for a scene or sound of local trains is ubiquitous in the film.

The film is a reunion of Lucknow alumnus in Mumbai in that Sonu Sood is from Lucknow; his dad, Rajendra Gupta, is a professor from Lucknow who has dropped in on Sonu Sood to die on him; politician Vinay Pathak is from Lucknow (and conveniently an ex-student of Rajendra Gupta) and then there is a news channel reporter, also from Lucknow, who is, according to the film, the only and the star reporter on Mumbai‘s TV scene.

But, then there is a Lucknow reunion wrecker in Naseeruddin Shah. His antecedents are not deemed necessary to be established. He just pops up to spoil Sonu Sood‘s party. It seems that there is a rivalry between Sood and Shah over the body count of the encounter killings both have executed. Both cops, however, have one thing in common; they owe loyalty to opposing politicians, shooting unidentified extras in the day, mingling with big builders in the evening and dancing and making merry with nautch girls in bars at night. That, in general, is the sketch of Mumbai encounter cops for you.

There is no definite villain in the film. It is about the game of one-upmanship between two cops, two politicians and two builders and that too is given without dwelling on details. As the two cops play their games, Sood has the backing of Vinay Pathak and the news reporter, Aman Sadh, while Naseeruddin Shah has the backing of the all powerful home minister, Mohan Agashe. Someone had to give and it is Pathak who betrays Sood leading to final bloodbath culminating in both policemen killing each other in their fight for supremacy.

Maximum has no coherent script and comes across more as a live telecast of two warring cops. The story telling skill has been done away with. If the film is trying to tell two facets of a policeman when Sood is a caring husband, son and father at home, it is not relevant or of interest in any way. There is no scope for music but an item number has been forced in and wasted. Sonu Sood performs well but it is pointless as you don‘t know whether he is a hero or an antihero. Naseeruddin Shah has been miscast.

Vinay Pathak is convincing as a sweet-talking politician. Rajendra Gupta and Neha Dhupia, brought into contribute domesticity to the story, fail to do that as their parts are superficial. Neither dialogue not editing are appealing. The film, even at 106 minutes, is maximum stress on ones senses.

As for the box office prospects, Maximum has none.

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