Banners: AD Films, Pen India, Abbas Mustan Films Production
Producers: Haresh Patel, Pranay Chokshi, Dhaval Jayantilal Gada (DG), Abbas-Mustan
Cast: Mustafa Burmawala, Kiara Advani, Ronit Roy, Eshan Shanker, Dalip Tahil, Carla Dennis, Johnny Lever (s.a)
Writer: Sanjeev Kaul (story, screenplay & dialogue)
Music: Tanishk Bagchi, Dr Zeus
It’s one of those basic rules of filmmaking – identify your target audience and play to them. The makers of Machine were well versed in this basic premise and they deliver on their promise. Movie-goers who are not interested in this genre will stay away anyway but those who believe in Abbas-Mustan’s cinema will get their money’s worth. The film does have its flaws but with scenic locations, fabulous cars and suspense, the film does impress. The only losing proposition is poor writing.
Saira Thapar (Kiara Advani) is a race car driver who participates in the ‘Ultimate Racer Challenge’, and in spite of being one of the best, gets beaten by Ranch (Mustafa Burmawala). They study at the same college and, in no time, the duo start to have feelings for each other. Then, Saira starts getting mysterious gifts from a secret admirer. Although she expects her secret admirer to be Ranch, it turns out to be her friend Aditya (Eshan Shanker). And just as Aditya steps forward to confess his feelings to Saira, he is hit by a speeding car, which kills him. An extremely disturbed Saira not only finds solace in Ranch, she also eventually gets married to him after her dad (Ronit Roy) approves the marriage.
Soon Ranch takes part in one of the most prestigious car racing championships in Georgia. There, he meets Serena Altar (Carla Dennis) and falls in love with her. How the film unfolds further forms the crux of the story along with many twists and turns in the narrative.
The director duo Abbas-Mustan is as stylish as ever with their larger-than-life canvas. Right from picturesque locations to chic action, Machine has it all. But the screenplay and dialogue bring down the film quite a few notches. For a trendy film like Machine, the dialogue is outdated and breaks the flow of the film. While some parts of the film give you a déjà vu feel of many previous Abbas-Mustan films, the film fails to impress in the writing department. Nevertheless, they pull off the action sequences with finesse. From the car races to the action sequences, every scene is bang-on. The suspense element is over-the-top and rather confusing, after a point.
However, the film has the Abbas-Mustan signature stamp, with ample twists and turns complimented by fabulous production values and grand locations. If only the duo had given more thought to the writing, the film could have been a truly impressive watch.
Many scenes are predictable while some are confusing. For instance, the protagonists get married without even graduating from college; Sarah falling for a secret admirer sending her blood-written notes. The run time (148 minutes) of the film is too long and works against the firmness of the script.
The first and second halves of the film are a smooth ride, with consistency intact. Many scenes are brilliant and executed with panache, especially the racing sequences. Music is an average affair and works against the narrative. Background score is good. Costumes and locations are fabulous, like every other Abbas Mustan film. Cinematography by Dilshad VA is top notch, and each frame is beautifully placed and visually the film is impressive. Editor Hussain Burmawala should have been told to shorten the runtime.
Performance-wise, Mustafa makes a confident debut. For his first film, he does a fairly good job but needs to brush up on his expressions. Three-film-old Kiara Advani looks good and acts competently. Ronit Roy plays his part with conviction and delivers a well-rounded performance. Eshan Shanker is just about okay. Dalip Tahil gets into the skin of his character. Carla Dennis looks glamorous and is notable. Johnny Lever in a friendly appearance is a show-stealer. The rest of the cast supports well.
Verdict: Just about okay.