Director: Gaurav Chavla
Writers: Nikhil- Parvez-Aseem
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Radhika Aapte, Chitrangda Singh
Background Score: John Stewart Eduri
Shakun Kothari/ Saif Ali Khan is the bull of the stock market and an indulgent father of his two daughters. When a video of him in a spat with a rival gets viral his daughters are ostracized in school and come home crying.
That night Shakun tells bedtime stories to his daughters and asks, ‘Who do you like the Batman o the Superman?’ ‘The Superman’ responds the ten-year-old, ‘The Batman does not seem good’. ‘That is the problem’ says Shakun, ‘People assume he is not good’ and that is the crux of the film.
What makes the film interesting is the refreshing premise – the stock market and the stock traders. This is the first time we have an intimate glimpse into the ongoings of the Dalal Street and the director captures the frenzy of the rise and fall of stocks in a manner that is thrilling.
The narrative is energetic, the characters unconventional and the shot taking refreshing.
The first half moves like a rocket – smooth, sharp and precise to an extent that you resent the interval. The second half, unfortunately, slackens in pace and meanders towards a not so surprising climax.
There are many ways to describe this film; you can call it a story of greed and ambition, of power and corruption, a story of a mentor and his protégée or a story of a sprint and a marathon runner.
No story of ambition is ever complete without a battle of the conscience, and the writers cleverly address the morality of the characters engaging their respective families with all the intrigue and complexities.
The plus of the film is the craft, the background score, and the production design. The writers introduce us to the vocabulary of the stock market with references like ‘Out of line’ and ‘Bazaar chalu che’ that add to the narrative. The minus is the dragging second half that could have been edited by 15 minutes.
All the performances do justice. As Mandira who watches Shakun succeed and alter as a man, Chitrangda Singh has sensitive moments. As Priya Rai, colleague and beloved of Rohan Mehra, Radhika Aapte projects many shades to her character. As the young trader who befriends the shark, Rizwan Ahmed/ Rohan Mehra is easily the surprise packet of the film. Mehra mixes anxiety with ambition and portrays the fear and fire of a small town guy with precision and restraint that is admirable.
And finally Saif Ali Khan, there’s something special about the actor in the manner he inhabits the strangest of characters from contrasting milieus and makes them believable. Clad in silk dhoti that spreads over a bare chest he is introduced as the affluent community leader greeting ‘Michamidukhdam’ to all and yes, he gets the Gujarati accent right.
Whether he is at home, outside, at work, with confidantes or with his detractors, Saif never loses grip on his character ably facilitated by a detailed screenplay.
Debut director Gaurav Chavla gets well most of it right and deserves a dekho in the theatres. Also, like the Batman and the Superman, it’s interesting how the perception of a title alters from time to time. In the 50s Bazaar told the story of a courtesan. In the 80s Baazaar delved on sale in marriage and in 2018 Bazaar is quite literally about business.
I rate Baazaar with 3.5 stars.