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Machine Review: Made By, Of And For Machines

For some reason, makers Abbas-Mustan decided to make an anti-Baazigar – in 2017, long after they’ve outlived their relevance in the creative hemisphere

Rahul DesaiRahul Desai

March 17, 2017 | 03:03 PM

FC Rating

★★★★★
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Machine Movie Review, Rahul Desai, Rahul Desai Movie Reviews, Abbas Mastan, Kiara Advani, Mustafa, Dalip Tahil, Bollywood Movie Machine,

Director: Abbas-Mustan

Cast: Mustafa, Kiara Advani, Ronit Roy, Dalip Tahil

Filmmaking in Hindi cinema tends to become a family business of sorts. But there’s still a difference between Uday Chopra being directed by his brother Aditya in a film produced by their father, and one Mustafa Burmawala being launched in a film directed by his father and uncle (no idea who is which) edited by another family member. For starters, the Chopras didn’t look like they should have been running a jewelry store instead. And they didn’t act like it either. They continue to make films that at least look – physically, technically – like they’ve been made by craftspeople, even if writers aren’t part of this esteemed circle. 

Whereas Abbas-Mustan, the director duo who turned our nineties upside down with their pulpy cult thrillers, somehow, against the laws of nature, have inhaled the poisonous green smoke that has been claiming the senses of Bollywood’s most iconic old-school hit makers. This mysterious disease causes once-glorious directors (Ramgopal Varma, Subhash Ghai, Sooraj Barjatya) to actually regress with time, and become the filmmaking equivalents of Benjamin Button. It’s not their vision or storytelling techniques that have aged, but their basic skills – their perception of competent acting, shot-making, writing, scoring and being coherent – that have become infantile, as if they’ve forgotten the art overnight. 

Is this even possible? 

What else can explain the existence of Machine

Race, Race 2 and Players were simply starters, foreboding whimpers of main-course intent. Sonam Kapoor playing a genius computer hacker isn’t the most ridiculous suspension-of-disbelief contender anymore. Neil Nitin Mukesh isn’t the worst (or best, depending on how you look at it…or what you’re inhaling) super-villain in cinematic history anymore. 

It’s awful, delusional, incompetent, idiotic and utterly enjoyable for how it defies the very concept of evolution and logic. After a while, you feel like pulling the chubby cheeks of this film and baby talking with it

Machine is more than just a launch vehicle. It launches us to the top of a tilting skyscraper on a Himachal cliff in Georgia and locks us in a wooden cabin within the skyscraper with a tube containing a mixture of tear gas and laughing gas. It demands complete submission, failing which it may look like just another ordinary ‘bad’ film. This is extraordinarily bad, pathetic, unbelievably tragic, and almost good as a result. It’s awful, delusional, incompetent, idiotic and utterly enjoyable for how it defies the very concept of evolution and logic. After a while, you feel like pulling the chubby cheeks of this film and baby talking with it. 

For some reason, the makers decided to make an anti-Baazigar – in 2017, long after they’ve outlived their relevance in the creative hemisphere. I’ve mentioned it earlier, too. While ordinary kids are given toys to play with, industry kids are given careers to play with. Ransh (Mustafa) charms Sara (Kiara Advani; from MS Dhoni to MS Excel) by winning a race – that is, using her car as a springboard to leapfrog his own car over the finish line. See, he didn’t “lose something to win something”. One from the Chopra book of non-tricks (self-referencing and ‘contemporizing’ your own films to demonstrate the willingness to adapt). He defeated her, humbled her. Stalked her. Harms her. There’s no point getting sensitive about an Abbas-Mustan movie the same way there’s no point reacting to the family’s favourite lovably senile retired army Major at a wedding. 

Meanwhile, Ransh’s competition is her best friend (a guy who will, down the years, symbolize the essence of #friendzoned) and a villainous admirer from her class in Woodstock College – both of who will become footnotes in the Abbas-Mustan book of shocking-twists-because-we-can. Sara is filthy rich, and her father is a very rich Ronit Roy – an actor who is fast becoming the top authority on the going rate of a soul. She marries Ransh, and it honestly doesn’t matter what happens next. Just be prepared to never think of Baazigar, Darr and every legitimate desi thriller the same way again. Or just be prepared to not think. Do not resist; its vapid embrace will squeeze you, like a python putting on vivid Johnny Lever expressions. 

Jokes aside, this is a joke of a film. Perhaps filmmakers like these are so intent on proving that they can move with the times, that instead of adhering to the ideologies of a newer generation, they decide to create their own rules in their own mutant interpretation of an era

Jokes aside, this is a joke of a film. Perhaps filmmakers like these are so intent on proving that they can move with the times, that instead of adhering to the ideologies of a newer generation, they decide to create their own rules in their own mutant interpretation of an era. All through, they end up condescending on our space, virtually placing leopard rugs in minimalistic, functional studio apartments. And nobody – I mean nobody – stops them, because reputation is everything, and old is gold. You don’t tell legends when to retire, do you? For example, racing is a serious and pulsating sport for us, but on-screen racing for them is still a hot-wheels set they sweetly gift to their favourite nephew. In their pursuit to be that cool hipster dad, they always end up wearing mismatched shoes and a mothballed tweed white jacket – and decide to wear trendy sunglasses to fit in and look young. And if you’re wondering why the title is so science-fiction-ish, it’s because only outdated machines can make a film like this. If these machines get upgraded and rebranded with the latest software to handle the server traffic of the 21st century, the result is Rohit Shetty (T-1000). 

 

Watch the trailer here: