Director: Akarsh Khurana
Cast: Sumeet Vyas, Mantra Mugdh, Kumud Mishra, Sonnalli Seygall
A movie like High Jack makes me wonder – you’re a storyteller, writing runs in your blood, you’ve spent your career scripting some terrible big-budget films like Kites, Krrish, U Me Aur Hum and Humshakals, you work better in the digital space, you’re doing all this so that you can finally direct that one film you trust no other filmmaker with, that one film destined to showcase your original, unfiltered, pure and passionate voice to the world.
Do you really, really – really – want to make that one film a stoner comedy in a country whose regular comedies are unintentionally far more stoned than a stoner comedy?
Is a film in which the noise of a pant tearing being used as a sound effect to indicate the fear of a bumbling hijacker really worth all those years of working towards this one privileged moment? Do you really think that you can just splash a midlife crisis onto the screen and blame it on recreational drugs by inaccurately calling the film India’s first stoner comedy?
Do you really think the zombies from Go Goa Gone will forgive you for this? Why would you want to use drugs as an excuse to present the kind of lowbrow, daft humour and racial profiling that perhaps only Sajid Khan would be proud of? Would you not rather make people laugh instead of driving them to pop the first pill they can find in order to tolerate the 108-minute mess on screen?
Akarsh Khurana is a brave man for making a film about a Goa-Delhi flight in which the most pressing problem isn’t the safety of the air hostesses. Phantom is a brave production house for backing a film whose only purpose is to integrate Nucleya’s music into the Madh Island rave party circuit. Sumeet Vyas is a brave actor to jump out of the internet space onto the silver screen for a harebrained film that only the makers will compare to stoner classics like Pineapple Express. I am a brave critic for going in with an open mind and coming out with an open diary of alternate career options.
High Jack is not even about a guy called Jack – what’s the point? It is about a DJ called Rakesh, who, after being conned in Goa, agrees to be a drug mule so that he can get the money to save his father’s clinic. He boards a flight full of offensive and unfunny characters (including a “manly” air hostess called, well, Amanda) that look like they have escaped from Humshakals’ rejected footage. At the same time, four clowns decide to hijack the plane to recover their dues from the airline (I really hope Vikramaditya Motwane didn’t come up with “Udaan Air”) that’s going out of business. An example of the film’s tone: when they pull out their guns, an Arab man seated behind inwardly curses them for foiling his plan.
Naturally, everyone is high at one point – including the writers, who shrewdly let the action unravel in a nice, spacious airplane so that there is no doubt left in our heads about why the company that operates Boeing 767s on domestic routes is sinking. If nothing, High Jack might just end Kumud Mishra’s comedy career; not even he can survive the ignominy of playing a lecherous, jingoistic Delhi uncle that rejects a Chicken Lahori meal because of its Pakistani connotations. It might also prove that numerology isn’t quite working for Pyaar Ka Punchnama actress Sonnalli Seygall, who plays a co-pilot trying her best to not look she is at a costume ball.
What High Jack won’t do is convince us that cocaine is worse than inane filmmaking. This is an addiction that has afflicted many Hindi film directors – an addiction so strange that they consume this inexplicable drug hour after hour while their audiences are the ones who need urgent rehabilitation before they turn into bloodthirsty zombies. The only time I really laughed was when I realized that Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise might have been renamed “High Jack Sparrow” by these immensely gifted Bollywood visionaries.