Sanjay Gupta is perhaps the biggest self-proclaimed Quentin Tarantino fan in the country. When you look at Kaante (2002), Musafir (2004) and Zinda (2006), there's no denying what inspired him to conjure up those slow motion action sequence, and bullets blowing up brains. Shootout at Wadala is no different. Set in the late 70's and 80's the film is an unapologetic gangster flick that milks every opportunity to play to the gallery and titillate its core audience with violence and sex.
Taking references from S Hussain Zaidi’s book From Dongri to Dubai, the film is a sort of biopic that revolves around the rise and fall of notorious goon Manya Surve (John Abraham) who ruled over parts of Mumbai and messed around with his rivals Zubair (Manoj Bajpayee) and Dilawar (Sonu Sood). Along the way he also gets to show us his human side, make love to his girlfriend Vidya (Kangana Ranaut) and play the loyal friend to Sheikh Munir (Tusshar Kapoor) and his hoodlum. Like every Gupta film, there are ample cops to fill up a brigade with Anil Kapoor and Ronit Roy leading the ranks. Wadala beings as a flashback told in a van driven against a badly framed green screen with a bleeding Manya fleshing out the juicy details of his past to Anil Kapoor who plays the moderator and intervenes after every song and dance break.
Let's get to the good news first. Wadala works because it shamelessly epitomizes its genre and has no qualms about being what it is - an over the top action drama. There are moments that keep the tension intact, especially the second half where Manya takes on the Imtiaz brothers head on. John Abraham deserves credit for physically and emotionally giving his all to the role. Watching the actor flex those biceps and show his well chiseled torso is a thing of the past, but that slow motion frame where he clings on to a BEST bus is bound to remind all these upcoming lads (likes of Arjun Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and Sushant Singh Rajput) who they are competing against. He might not have the right dialect or the body language to carry off that Dadar-Parel localite vibe, but he compensates for it with his screen presence and well executed action scenes.
Tusshar Kapoor who plays his side kick, sinks his teeth into the meaty role and chews on every scene written to showcase his diversity. The ensemble of supporting actors gives Wadala a definitive edge. Anil Kapoor, Manoj Bajpayee, Sonu Sood and Ronit Roy despite the short comings of their characters are 100% in character all the time and never lose the pulse of what's happening around them.
Despite the pace and massy dialogues the film has several loop holes. The songs are jarring, especially when Manya goes from being menacing to doing some ridiculous dance steps next to a gyrating Sophie Choudary-Sunny Leone-Priyanka Chopra. Yes, despite the barrage of three item songs, none of them really wow you with their melody or choreography. The Kangana-John track seems to be written to provide the sex quotient. There is ample heaving and thrusting that becomes gimmicky half way through the film.
SAW will appeal to those who crave for a masala potboiler set in the 80's with corny dialogues, sexual innuendos and enough bang to match your buck. Watch it at a single screen to experience its true flavor.