Sanak, On DisneyPlus Hotstar, Is Bollywoodised Die Hard, But Can’t Match Its Dramatic Stakes, Film Companion

Director: Kanishk Varma
Writer: Ashish P. Verma
Cast: Vidyut Jammwal, Neha Dhupia, Rukmini Maitra, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Chandan Roy
Cinematographer: Pratik Deora
Editor: Sanjay Sharma
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar

Sanak is a Bollywoodised Die Hard. Instead of the Nakatomi Plaza, we have the Green Hills Hospital. In the iconic action film, Bruce Willis’ character John McClane is an NYPD cop who has to save his wife from German terrorists. Here Vidyut Jammwal is Vivaan Ahuja, an MMA trainer who has to save his wife from multinational mercenaries who storm the hospital.

In Die Hard, the baddie is played by the brilliant Alan Rickman, who combines menace with steely sophistication. Here we get Chandan Roy Sanyal as Saju. Chandan does a solid impression of a trigger-happy psycho and also gets the film’s best line – in one scene, Saju tells the hostages: Aaj main goliyon ka istemal nahi karna chahta kyunki humara budget jo hai kum hai. And instead of the cheery cop Sergeant Al Powell, who assists John from outside the building, we get Neha Dhupia as ACP Jayati Bhargav. In her introduction scene, she grabs a man’s balls and says: Teen second mein tere kaju tootne wale hain. Which massively raised my expectations. But sadly, the character gets sidelined through the film.

The load rests on the impressive shoulders of Vidyut. Director Kanishk Varma and writer Ashish P. Verma deviate slightly from the Jammwal action-movie template. Early in the film, we see his character cry. They also give him a medical vulnerability, which is never explained or used effectively. I think the chinks in the armour are supposed to add suspense to the action sequences. But we all know that Viduyt has never met a villain that he can’t overpower.

The hospital setting allows action director Andy Long Nguyen to innovate – one sequence takes place in an MRI room, another in a space for physiotherapy and Vivaan gets to show his nifty moves with bands and other props. At another time, he uses a walker as a weapon. His wife, Anshika, who is a hostage, leaves a voice message for him saying: Hero banne ki koshish bilkul mat karna. Of course, Vivaan doesn’t listen. At one point, he even risks his life to save babies in an incubator. The point of that sequence is the final shot, which has him walking out in slow motion, carrying an infant in one hand.

Also Read: The Best Action Movies On Streaming

Varma and Verma are singularly unable to raise the dramatic stakes. The bad guys, who have names like Max, Yuri and Chad, are sketch figures who exist only to become fodder for Vidyut’s fists. Anshika played by Rukmini Maitra is relentlessly vapid. And most annoying are two little boys who seem to have stepped out of a 90s film. One, a patient, says to Vivaan – Aapki body badi solid lag rahi hai uncle. The other, an amateur gun and bomb expert, assists Vivaan on his mission. When Vivaan asks if he is ready, he grins and says, “I was born ready.” The josh, even in the middle of horrifying attack, is high.

I get it. The Vidyut Jammwal film is purely a vehicle for action. We are there to see him break bodies in new and creative ways. But can’t the narrative gluing the action sequences together have a little more depth and sparkle? Case in point – Die Hard. The makers didn’t need to look further than their inspiration.

You can watch Sanak on DisneyPlus Hotstar.

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