Director: Laurens C. Postma
Writers: Laurens C. Postma, Farrukh Dhondy
Cast: Jackie Shroff, Anjum Nayar
Streaming on: Book My Show Stream
A few months ago, I suffered through a film called Hello Charlie in which Jackie Shroff spent most of his time onscreen pretending to be a gorilla. I wondered then if that was the bottom of the barrel for him. Jackie’s career, spanning nearly forty years and over 250 films, has always been diverse enough to introduce whiplash, ranging from pathbreaking roles like the aging don in Aaranya Kaandam to the aforementioned gorilla. As it turns out, the barrel has another bottom – it’s called The Interview: Night of 26/11.
The film presents an intriguing idea – on the night of 26/11, as horrific violence is unleashed in Mumbai, a celebrated war correspondent is attempting to interview a famous Bollywood star. It’s an assignment he doesn’t want. It’s a conversation she doesn’t want to have. The two spar verbally through the night in a game of one-upmanship, which eventually unmasks them. The film is the second adaptation of a Dutch film called Interview, which was also remade in Hollywood with Steve Buscemi and Sienna Miller in key roles. The Bollywood version has been directed by Laurens C. Postma who has 24 credits as director on IMDB. He co-wrote the film with Farrukh Dhondy, who also wrote Mangal Pandey: The Rising.
Which makes me want to ask: What were they smoking? This film is so bizarrely amateurish that it’s hard to adequately describe it. It begins with an atmospheric black-and-white sequence in which Jackie’s character Rohan is walking towards a jail cell. We then cut to North Afghanistan, where the characters are meeting at a bar and suddenly bombs go off and limbs are lost. And somehow, we move from this to a scenario in which Rohan’s editor is insisting that instead of covering terrorism and war, he interviews film star Tara Malhotra who never speaks to the press. The editor says: Woh hamare newspaper se baat karegi aur iske liye main tumhari jeebein bhar dhoonga. This line made me laugh out loud because no one has ever gone into film journalism hoping to get rich.
The Interview is filled with dialogue like this and the unintended hilarity sustained me. Through the film Rohan addresses Tara as Miss Silicon. She calls him Daddy. At one point, she tells him: Mujhe bossy mard bahut pasand hai. At another, he declares: The bastards have inherited the earth – kalyug aa gaya hai. He dismisses her as a fake, manipulative non-actor. So she takes him by surprise by quoting post-Marxist theory and Samuel Beckett. Most of the action takes place in a sprawling house and these scenes are staged like a kindergarten school play.
It doesn’t help that Anjum Nayar who plays Tara is unable to convincingly express a single emotion. She veers between being plastic and being stilted. So it’s up to Jackie to save the day and I have to say that his commitment is admirable. He gives his best shot at being dangerous, suave and brutal. But the writing and direction is so inept that he mostly seems bored. On one hand, he has to play a hard-nosed journalist who has interviewed Hillary Clinton and who has shrapnel from a grenade embedded in his chest. On the other, he has to say lines like: Agar main aatankwadiyon ko sambhal sakta hoon toh aap kya cheez hai? After all, I am a war correspondent.
I’m obviously not a war correspondent but watching this film left some scars.
You can watch The Interview: Night of 26/11 on BookMyShow Stream.