The Tiger Eye Firecracker Showcase continues tonight with Ram Gopal Varma's crime thriller Ab Tak Chhappan - a sizzling look at one police division's take no prisoners approach to law enforcement in Mumbai. Nana Patekar plays Sadhu Agashe, top cop on the beat with a double figure score of criminals he's dispatched. His second in command is envious both of his superior position and the media frenzy that surrounds him. The team's routine is disrupted with the appearance of a rookie at the same time that a new commissioner takes charge. Sadhu simply gets on with the job of shooting criminals in the head every chance he gets (his team helping by emptying their guns into anyone left breathing) while crossing swords verbally with one underworld bigshot in particular who wants Sadhu to back off. Events unfold and when things get personal Sadhu finds himself on the wrong side of the law and with his options running out.
Ab Tak Chhappan is an intense little movie, reminiscent of the character driven crime flicks of the seventies. It's not hard to imagine a young Gene Hackman in the lead role and indeed the best thing about the movie is Nana Patekar's performance. His Sadhu is a determined man willing to push things as far as they need to go to get his job done, but for all that he has a since of humour and a twisted code of honour that he expects both his subordinates and enemies to abide to. When they don't he takes things up a notch and while it's unfair to dismiss him as a Dirty Harry clone there is something of Don Siegel’s taut direction in the way that Ram Gopal Varma moves the camera around his leading man.
The supporting cast does a great job, especially Yashpal Sharma's Imtiyaz whom the audience can't help but agree with when it comes to Sadhu's all or nothing approach to the job. Prasad Purandare plays the seemingly untouchable gangster well while much is left to Nakul Vaid's rookie, Jatin, who finds himself in the enviable position of being taken under Sadhu's wing.
We loved this film and were happy to see Firecracker bring it to a wider audience, but don't just take our word for it:
“Quite possibly the best Michael Mann film not actually made by Michael Mann or anyone associated with him… Ab Tak Chhappan is the sort of murky-moraled crime thriller that reputations are built upon… comes very close to being a perfect crime drama.” Twitchfilm.net
“Accomplished camerawork, gritty dialogue, punchy editing and a sense of realism make this an assured debut, and another hit film from the stable of top Bollywood producer Ram Gopal Varma.” Channel4.com
Ab Tak Chhappan plays tonight at 8:45pm at the Curzon Mayfair.
Full Firecracker details and the showcase trailer can be found here.