Interestingly, I choose to give it the tagline of ‘The Resurrection’ because you see people who were hitherto put out to pasture like Ranjeet, Akbar Khan, Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor, Soni Razdan and Sanjay Gupta himself, back in action with this movie.

Written and directed by Sanjay Gupta, SAW starts off in a zippy manner. The film is a sequel to ‘Shootout at Lokhandwala’ and, based on the book ‘Dongri to Dubai’ it dramatises the real-life encounter between the police and gangster Manohar ‘Manya’ Surve (John Abraham) in Mumbai’s Wadala area. Parallel roles are by Manoj Bajpai, Sonu Sood, Anil Kapoor, Mahesh Manjrekar, Tusshar Kapoor and Ronit Roy, with blink-and-miss-it cameos by Jackie Shroff, Akbar Khan and Ranjeet.

Gupta undeniably shows glimpses of his Kaante brilliance. However, the film has its sketchy moments and skips along in breaks – from profiling Manyaa’s rise to gangsterdom take centre stage, we suddenly skid to a halt and have brothers Zubair and Dilawar (Bajpai and Sood) making their intro, and then equally abruptly we have Ishaque Bagwan (Kapoor) and his band of merry men Shinde and Raja Tambat (Manjrekar and Roy) thrust upon us. Huh? Too much disconnect between Manyaa’s herogiri and Bagwan’s policegiri. Also, err, friendship and loyalty is all very well, but – AK and MM as aging supercops?

Blood and gore there is in plenty but of course – to be expected of such a storyline. It’s in plenty, but it isn’t sickening such as Gangs of Wassepur for instance; in any case, after Lokhandwala and GOW we as the audience seem to have become inured to violence. The carnage is vicious but not senseless, the treatment is different and imaginatively (if I may use that word) conceptualised; using a flower-bedecked wedding car for a brutal attack, pushing a cop onto a pile of fireworks and setting them alight. Certainly there is consistency, for instance, you see an honest-to-goodness shiv and not a rampoori chaaku during a prison fight.

Lots of inconsistencies too (such is Life!) It’s a bit farfetched to have a woman whip her nude rapists in a jail cell, with said whip (police belt) kindly provided by Bagwan playing at misguided Robinhood. Manyaa and Munir’s (Tusshar Kapoor) jailbreak sequence is very weak and rather improbable; it makes for a good film stunt maybe, but hardly searing reality.

Manoj Bajpai and Sonu Sood. There is a good connect here and apparent comfortable chemistry, indeed, I’d venture to say that Bollywood has found itself a new Jai-Veeru jodi. Bajpai gives us some absolutely superbly controlled dialogue delivery in his death scene – bravo!

Dialogues are well-loaded with double meaning in typical Gupta style, to wit: “Tehzeeb mein bhi tezaab hai;”  “haddi se le kar kanoon, sab todta hoon.” Or a cynical Zubair telling Inspector Shinde: “dialogue freedom fighter ki tarah kar rahe ho – tum mujhe khoon do, main tumhe azaadi doonga.”

John Abraham is the surprise package of the movie which is well worth a watch for JA fans, of which I am an unabashed one. Rippling abs et al, and the moustache coupled with the quirky eyebrows look suits him very well to be sure. He does a very creditable job and proves that he can amply take on negative characters on those well-built shoulders; this role has more shades of slum criminal while in ‘New York’ he was the sophisticated, savvy terrorist and he carries off both with elan. He needs to work harder on his dialogue delivery though especially when it comes to heavy emo – he ends up sounding more like a petulant, shrewish housewife than a menacing overlord!

WHAT has female lead Kangana Ranaut done to herself? I don’t know which era look she was trying to pull off with those thick eyebrows and smeared-on lipstick but whatever, she better get herself a makeover and pronto!

Item numbers by Sunny Leone and Priyanka Chopra have some horribly lewd moves and no, they’re not titillating. Sunny Leone looks aptly feline and has the requisite curves spilling out in the required directions. PC does a better job of fitting into the much-touted electric lights suit than Amitabh Bachchan did in Yaarana J  She looks trim and svelte although the song itself is no great shakes and I’m appalled that an actress of her calibre gave in to those suggestive boob-moves.

On the whole, the action scenes are well shot. Manyaa’s death scene is understated and underplayed, the eerie silence broken only by church bells tolling and spits of flame from the gun. Having said that, not sure if the real encounter actually happened this way though or whether undue cinematic license has been taken – seems a bit extreme to have the crowded area near Dr Ambedkar College surrounded by gun-toting cops in plain clothes.

‘Ae Manyaa’ is well-sung and more importantly, extremely apt to the situation. With Annu Malik and Anaand Raj Anaand somewhere in the mix, the music is bound to be peppy. Gupta put together a snappy crew – no complaints with ace cinematographer Sameer Arya at the helm and action by Allan Amin is riveting! Hardly surprising that sound is so well handled considering Resul Pookutty was behind it. Editing by Bunty Nagi could have been tauter by 15-20 minutes however, still a commendable job.

Okay, as I keep saying – story, story, story. What is this glaring loophole in the climax? A badly injured Manyaa is close to death whilst riding in the police van and still spilling his life story along with his guts to Bagwan and yet, we also see him shot to bits and pieces – literally- at the college, and then his body is loaded into the police van and taken to Sion Hospital where he is declared dead on arrival. Huh? Sanjay Gupta? Hussain Zaidi? Abhijit Deshpande? Anyone at all care to explain??

Overheard audience comment at the end: “Shootout at Lokhandwala” was better.” Hmm. I may just have to concede the point.

*This review is written exclusively for The Film Writers Association of India.

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