Film: 'EMI'; Director: Saurabh Kabra; Cast: Sanjay Dutt, Urmila Matondkar, Arjun Rampal, Malaika Arora, Ashish Chowdhary, Neha Oberoi; Rating: **
You have to salute the Sanjay Dutt-Urmila Matondkar dinner on the dock in the second-half of this socially relevant in parts, emotionally elevating morality tale where Sanjay's gloriously goofy and endearing character proposes to the object of his adoration.
The sequence shows great emotional control, comic timing and dramatic subtlety. It builds up splendidly into a spiral of implosive romance. And Urmila skilfully weaves coquettishness into contrivance to show how a lady can manipulate a man without meaning any harm.
The above sequence shows debutant director Saurabh Kabra's control of the medium. Alas, this control isn't evident everywhere. This valid tale about loan recovery scampers all over the place, quite like those poor debtors being chased by the loan sharks.
At a time when the world faces severe economic recession, 'EMI' sounds a topical alarm bell. Tragically the narration doesn't follow the golden rule of survival. It stumbles at times in trying to over-reach, moving the body of the plot into positions that damages the narration.
Miraculously every time the four set of characters stumble, director Kabra catches them and puts them back into place. You only wish the characters, lived-in and feeling rather than faking the emotions, would have been located into a more virile and vibrant environment.
Quite clearly Sanjay's role, personality and performance are a carry-over from the 'Munnabhai' films.
The postures assumed by the plot don't quite match the sincerity of the actors, all of whom perform with gusto.
Arjun Rampal and, surprisingly, Ashish Chaudhary lend a contagious verve to their parts without converting their characters into clownish caricatures. And a word for the seasoned Kulbhushan Kharbanda. Does he ever disappoint?
While the guys take over the show, Urmila and Malaika Arora provide the glamour. But Malaika's item songs seem forced into the plot.
The sense of segmented satirical momentum is kept afloat through the performances. The dialogues by Nitin Raikwar and T. Govind Rajan capture the desperate energy and the underlining humour of a generation that's rapidly losing the plot.
Blessedly, the film manages to stay on the right track. Never overwhelming in its social message on middle-class extravagance, but managing to make the ends meet from the beginning to the end.