A bunch of losers tracking their way to success, via a turn-of-the-millennium tale set in New Delhi and Mumbai, passing through a ‘bhai’ and his henchmen, a short fixer and his tall bodyguard, a gambling tycoon and match-fixing deals: ‘99’ brings together this motley group, all on the verge of 99, just waiting for that elusive century, and delivers us from the prolonged Bollywood famine at the multiplexes.
But maybe it’s too early to rejoice. Because ‘99’, directed by the duo who gave us the delightful NRI rom com ‘Flavours’ (catch it on a movie channel if you missed the release in 2003), is not half as funny as it makes itself out to be. And that’s sad, because it had the potential to go over big.
Two Mumbai-based good-hearted crooks (Kunal, Cyrus) who run a small but flourishing business in fake sim cards, and who are forced into working for an oily loan shark (Mahesh) land in Delhi to recover a bad loan from an inveterate better and incorrigible liar (Boman). The film opens in 1999, and slips over into 2000 (the match fixing scandal was the biggest thing on broadsheets and news channels those days, that’s why).
It was also the beginning of India’s mobile revolution. Which gives the directors a perfect excuse to string together a series of macho cellphone jokes (if you keep it on the ear, it gives you a tumour, if you it keep in your shirt pocket, your heart is in danger, and if you keep it in your pant pocket, then, well, ahem; the only female who’s shown using a cell holds it aloft gingerly). By it’s third usage, it’s no longer a joke.
Except for a couple of hilarious sequences where the pace is just right, and a few sharp character strokes (the Bhojpuri actor who’s also in debt is a hoot), ‘99’ takes too long to get where it’s going. Kunal Khemu comes off alright, though he’s been doing similar stuff. So does Boman. But the film wastes, criminally, the sharp comic talent of Cyrus, who’s made to wear a fat suit and appear fat in the head and rush in and out of the loo all through. And Vinod Khanna, as dishy as ever, vanishes too soon.
Net net, ‘99’ stays content with a few fours and a couple of rollicking sixes, but doesn’t hit a ton.
Source: Indian Express