"Race 2": A clueless race course caper

Race 2

Starring Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone,John Abraham, Jacqueline Fernandez, Anil Kapoor, Ameesha Patel; Directed by Abbas-Mustan; Rating **

Everyone is busy deceiving everyone else in this paper caper, which probably looked tempting in the writing but comes across on screen as a monstrous masquerade of hedonistic hijinx filmed at exotic locales where men and women play for high stakes, live dangerously and die foolishly. They deserve it.

Abbas-Mustan's love for depicting the high life is by now as well-known as David Dhawan's penchant for guffaws. Everyone in an Abbas-Mustan caper takes his or her life at the race course seriously when in fact the characters are all an extended joke. They are comicbook cut-outs pasted on to the big wide screen with all their exaggerations blown out of proportion.

It's hard to pinpoint where the leakage in this latest Abbas-Mustan adventure-caper begins to seep septically into the plot. But you know there is something serious amiss in the plot when one of the protagonists, Saif Ali Khan deadpans: "Revenge is best served cold."

Really? If that were indeed the case then the volumes of vendetta served up by disgruntled men and women in "Race 2" should have made our adrenaline...er...race really hard. Everyone says the 'R' word with a special stress savouring the word 'race' like a Caucasian tea-planter talking about his favourite slave in the 19th century.

Alas, the proceedings are as exciting as graffiti in the toilet scrawled endlessly over a newly-polished and painted wall. The uni-expression macho man John Abraham loves the leggy Deepika Padukone who loves the scowling Saif Ali Khan who loves Jacqueline Fernandes. In the end, though, these self-serving hedonists seem to love none but themselves.

Boring in their self-absorption and utterly oblivious of the world around them where pain and suffering are to be obtained once the fun and games end, these characters are busy striking artificial poses in carefully-toned bodies draped in the best dresses and suits created for the rich and the restless.

These are the nowhere people searching for thrills in a plot that revels in restlessness and seeks succour in making suckers out of all the characters. The only mildly interesting characters are the brassy detective played by Anil Kapoor and his air headed secretary Ameesha Patel. Anil keeps making phallic jokes with Ameesha who flutters her eyelashes pretending she doesn't know why the banana is mentioned so many times.

Years ago when Anil Kapoor sang a lewd song, "Khada hai khada hai", in a David Dhawan comedy, he claimed he didn't know what it meant. Is he again going to feign ignorance?

I am not even going to wonder what the rest of the cast was thinking when it agreed to be part of this moronic caper. Everyone seems to have focussed on the zeroes on their cheques letting the writer and director do the rest of the thinking.

Sadly, the holiday mood that prevails through the film grips the film's architects. They seem to be on leave as the action director takes over the proceedings.To be fair a couple of chase sequences specially one through the crowded streets of Istanbul where Saif hunts down his beloved's killer, are killers. But the climax on board a fake luxury aircraft is a howl. Amateur adventurers getting a kick out of their big-boy antics, John and Saif are to be taken as seriously as Superman and Batman cut-outs in a multiplex displaying forthcoming attractions.

The girls Deepika and Jacqueline try hard to pump up the steam by raising the mean quotient in their characters. They hardly look provocative enough to be convincing as femme fatales. As for the heroes Saif, looks like he decided to play a more somewhat more smirky avatar of Agent Vinod. I kid you not.

John alternates the scowl with the smirk sometimes interchanging the two expressions without warning. Can't blame him, poor chap. He must be as confused about the plot as we are.

Does anyone associated with this posh-looking but vacuous caper have any clue as to what they are doing in the plot? In January 2012 Abbas-Mustan had done another caper Players where the characters double crossed one another until we went cross-eyed trying to figure out who was doing whom .

Don't even try to reason out the characters' motivation in "Race 2". Drowned in a cacophony of one offkey song after another, wallowing in their one-note wickedness and getting high on their endless bouts of drinking, partying and masquerading , the characters in "Race 2" are a laugh. But shhhh. Don't tell them.

By the way, why do we need to import off-key singers from across the border to sing for our heroes? Don't we have enough of them at home?

(Subhash K. Jha can be contacted at @gmail.com)

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