Film: 'Race'; Cast: Anil Kapoor, Akshaye Khanna, Saif Ali Khan, Bipasha Basu, Katrina Kaif, Sameera Reddy; Director: Abbas-Mustan; Rating: **
Glamour, a ritzy gorgeousness and hedonism runs across 'Race' like a bolt of lightning cutting through a super-sleek surface reminding us that the 'Bold And The Beautiful' are basically compromised souls.
So join them at your own risk. In Abbas-Mustan's terribly sleek thrillers, the glamorous characters are fatally flawed. The women specially pull out all stops when it comes to realizing their ambitions and tapping into those areas of their conscience that are conventionally considered taboo for women.
In 'Aitraaz', we had Priyanka Chopra lusting after her employee under her husband's nose. In 'Humraaz', Amisha Patel plotted with lover-boy Akshaye Khanna to marry and disinherit hubby Bobby Deol. And of course in 'Baazigar' Shah Rukh Khan threw Shilpa down a high-rise without a second thud.
In 'Race' too Bipasha pushes one of the heroes down a high-rise. Though telling which would be a 'dead' giveaway. If you know what I mean.
The mean machine has never been meaner. None of the characters says what he/she means. And they all want to get rich. As rich as Abbas-Mustan, who have been marketing the murky side of affluence for over a decade now.
Suffice it to say money continues to be the main motivation for making the Abbas-Mustan's characters' world go round and wrong. The four main characters sparkle sartorially like walking-talking endorsements for botox and boutiques.
Full marks to stylist Anaita Adajania for making the attractive star-cast look ready ripe and riveting.
Then there's Allan Amin's action sequences... not world-class, mind you... we've seen ritzy cars somersaulting in the skyline with more elan in scores of forgotten car-chase adventures from the West.
But yes, it's been a while in Bollywood since the heroes chased cars more vigorously than skirts.
Despite the presence of three sensuous ladies, 'Race' is a very boys-night-out kind of thriller. Skidding wheels compete with Pritam's high-octave dance numbers to create a beguiling blend of the bowled and the bountiful.
Every one of the four main characters could be a wolf in disguise. The chic script plays an amusing cat-and-mouse game with the audiences' perceptions, shifting the needle of suspicion from one to the other character with numbing velocity until you just give up and go with the 'flaw'.
Editor Hussain Burmanwallah doesn't spare the material. Even the coolly -choreographed dance numbers are driven by a demoniacal desperation to beat the clock.
Everyone, the editor included, is shown running out of time as the two brothers Akshaye Khanna (robust and enjoying his part of the money machine) and Saif Ali Khan (scowling in transparent disdain) race to the finishing line.
Ironically the co-directors take the title a tad too literally. For a large part of the narration Saif and Akshaye are seen racing each other on cars.
The two actors seem to have enjoyed being in a film that extends the line of morality into the grey zone and makes acquisition seem like the only way to be faithful to the times that we live in.
Mid way, Anil Kapoor talking fast and furiously enters with dumb assistant Sameera Reddy to do an encore of Pankaj Kapoor and Sushmita Mukherjee from the zany detective serial 'Karamchand'.
Ah, a touch of historicity in a tale where people live for the present only.
'Karamchand' chewed on carrots. His modern day avatar chews on every seasonal fruit in pursuit of a phal-proof plan to nab the culprits.
We chew on Abbas-Mustan's inverted morality tale where the bad have all the fun. We wouldn't know what happens to the good. They stay out of this film.
As for the leading ladies, Bipasha is naturally saucy. Katrina tries.