In the first scene of Machine, a college girl gives a hefty donation to a nun. We are told that we are somewhere in North India. The girl looks like she stepped out of a fashion magazine shoot – high heels and this shorts-but-also-a-skirt outfit that reveals her shapely legs when the wind blows. And the nun is wearing lipstick – that’s when I knew we were in trouble.
I know it’s hard to imagine now but once upon a time Abbas Mustan were a Bollywood genre. They defined the cheesy thriller. The stories were usually stolen from Hollywood but the brothers molded them into pulpy, pacey whodunits for the Indian palate. Think of Baazigar, Khiladi, Aitraaz or even more recently Race. We got big stars in beautiful clothes, good songs and at least one solid twist. Everyone was happy.
But Machine reveals that the brothers – there’s also a third, Hussain A Burmawalla who edits these films – have wholly lost their mojo. This isn’t just a bad film. It’s incoherent, ridiculous and just flat-out nutty. Nothing onscreen makes any sense – least of all the hero – Mustafa Burmawalla who plays Ransh, the rich, race-car driving hero. Yes, Machine is a launch vehicle for a son. Mustafa tries very hard. But his acting skills are so severely limited and this narrative is so nonsensical, that he makes zero impact.