Director: Ranjit Tiwari
Starring: Farhan Akhtar, Diana Penty, Ronit Roy, Deepak Dobriyal
Like TV show Prison Break, Lucknow Central begins on an impressive note. We meet Kishan Girhotra (Farhan Akhtar), a Moradabad guy, who wants to form his own band. This is a distant vision, but he believes small towns can’t crush a big dream. Switching accents between urban, semi-urban and rural, Farhan Akhtar somehow finds himself in the jail on the charge of murdering an IAS officer.
He manages to convince a few inmates, to join his band, but the real idea behind the move is much more dangerous and can lead to total devastation. This band, a group of five criminals, has its reasons to run away from the jail, but one person is standing between them and the world outside: Jailor Shrivastava (Ronit Roy).By now, Lucknow Central begins to lose its sheen like, what else, Prison Break.
It’s not just the theme, but the two projects bear uncanny resemblance on many levels. Both have almost similar back-stories of the primary characters. The build-up of the characters played by Deepak Dobriyal, Rajesh Sharma, Gippy Grewal, Innamulhaq and even Farhan Akhtar appear to be following a set pattern.
What makes a difference is the acting. While Qaidi Band was an unpolished, mostly clueless story of an attempted jail break, Lucknow Central has a better intensity. You can connect the dots better in Lucknow Central.
Writers try their best to carve out believable characters. From Dobriyal’s Bengali engineer to Grewal’s disappointed lover, they find some echo with the audience, but then arrives Ronit Roy and his group of beetle-chewing cops who try hard to look menacing.
They mouth dialogues with twisted lips and forced ruthlessness. It seems like a desperate attempt to give Lucknow Central a distinct feel. Over the years, Ronit Roy has mastered such roles, also because this is what he does in almost every film. He looks at ease and seems ready for verbal volleys even when there is no one around.
Then there are the loopholes in the script. Sometimes they forget surnames, other times they wait for the opportune moment without realising it’s already gone. For example, why doesn’t Kishan run away from the Moradabad jail itself rather than waiting to be shifted to Lucknow?
In one of the scenes, inmates thump their plates against the wooden table. The crescendo rises as this scene signifies the true arrival of Kishan in the new jail. But the visuals don’t suggest any change in the movement of the actors’ hands. Kishan and his friends keep banging their plates with the same speed. This might be a small glitch, but every such mistake takes the audience’s attention away.
There’s no explanation for the jail band’s absence in the ultimate moments. Everything just seems too convenient. The director Ranjit Tiwari goes for old methods of filmmaking where the ‘dead’ hero used to return in the climax. He is concerned about the whistles rather than the impact of a continuous scene.
Though Tiwari tries to pay tribute to Orson Welles and Agneepath in his own way, nothing actually gives Lucknow Central the sense of urgency it needs to look like a jail break film.
The screenplay is not convoluted, but it’s not coherent either. It’s too simple a narrative to capture the audience’s imagination. We always know where it is heading.
The finale song is a rehashed version of Monsoon Wedding’s Kaavan kaavan. It’s a letdown. The momentum of first song ‘Rangdari’ is not sustained by the other songs. They keep delaying the film for no apparent reason and eventually it becomes really tough to sit still for good 147-minutes.
Thanks to Ravi Kishan and Dobriyal, Lucknow Central bring in some humour. The support cast saves the film from going totally wayward.
Lucknow Central fails to utilise its resources, especially Diana Penty, and loses out on a chance to become a really engaging film.