Saurabh Varma’s 7 Hours To Go opens with four armed men, in masks, breaking into a hi-tech building. The background music does its best to make us believe Godzilla is in the building too. Who are these men, and what does this event have to do with Arjun (Shiv Pandit), who’s holding people hostage at the Mumbai High Court? A business tycoon named Kabir Khemka may have something to do with all this. At least, we’re in no doubt that he’s evil. He plays golf on the terrace of an under-construction building. As Robert De Niro demonstrated so memorably in The Untouchables, people who carry sports equipment into non-sporting venues are always pure evil. There’s a hitman who’s even more evil. His day job involves dressing up as a dinosaur at kiddie parties, and afterwards, he keeps talking to his mother over the phone. All the time. Did I tell you the man’s name? It’s Amol Palekar. At least, at one point, he says it is.
As the story is over-familiar, Varma attempts to dazzle us with style. Every frame is a demonstration of some sort of film technique. There’s slo-mo. Characters are introduced in freeze frames with captions. There’s shaky-cam. There are shots in which people move at various speeds. 7 Hours To Go feels like the home movies Danny Boyle made as a teenager. The characters, too, are asked to do things that will make us go, So cool! ACP Nandini Shukla (Sandeepa Dhar) changes her shirt in her office with the door wide open, and we get a gratuitous bra shot (though I’m sure there are those among you who feel there is no such thing as a gratuitous bra shot). As for Ramesh Dhadke (Varun Badola), his freeze frame bears the caption The Quirky Cop. And how quirky is he? He lights a match and holds it under the nose of an unconscious man to verify if he’s alive. Oh, and the dialogues. On learning that the scantily clad woman in a photo is Mrs. Sharma, Nandini says, “Sharmati to koi angle se nahin lag rahi hai.”
There’s an effort to ratchet up the tension by cross-cutting between these events and a Ganpati visarjan. But the latter looks more like a sop thrown at Maharashtrian audiences. Don’t call me a cynic yet, for I’ll point you to the many instances of vada pav being consumed. If this film was remade in Gujarati, everyone would be munching a dhokla. There’s one part of me that says it’s a good thing that such essentially Western genres are being made in India, and this can only broaden the scope of our cinema. But at the same time, I wonder why bother when you don’t have the skill, the resources. 7 Hours To Go is what happens when you have a big idea and a very small budget. At some point we get a heist. A hard disk! Lasers! Alarms! Everything looks like it was created on Microsoft Word.
- “Sharmati to koi angle se nahin lag rahi hai” = From no angle does she look shy… er… dad joke
- Ganpati visarjan = see here
- vada pav = see here
- dhokla = see here
Copyright ©2016 Baradwaj Rangan. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.