Banners: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Kyta Productions,
Emmay Entertainment, B4U Entertainment
Producers: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Dheeraj J Wadhawan,
Ajay Kapoor, Ishan Saksena, Sunil Shah, Monisha Advani,
Madhu G Bhojwani, Nikkhil Advani
Director: Gauravv K Chawla
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Rohan Mehra, Radhika Apte,
Chitrangda Singh, Manish Chaudhary
Writers: Parveez Shaikh, Aseem Arora
Music: Kanika Kapoor, Honey Singh, Tanisha Bagchi, Suhail Sen, Bilal Saeed
Business, and the tangled web it weaves, is not a new theme in Bollywood. But Baazaar transports the audience into the high-octane world of the stock market, where naked ambition and pure greed rule the hearts and minds of those who submit to its vagaries. This is a first for a Hindi film.
It is not easy to tell an intriguing story against a backdrop of the financial markets. There is no room to falter, and maintaining the authenticity of the financial set-up is crucial. Baazaar manages to get that balance right, for the most part.
Shakun Kothari is one of the most powerful businessmen on Dalal Street. He is known for his brutal ways in the stock market. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has been on his tail for eight years, to uncover his illegal ways of making money, but with no luck.
Rizwan Ahmed is a small-time stock broker in Allahabad, whose ambition is to work with his idol Shakun Kothari. Determined to fulfill his dream, Rizwan lands up in Mumbai, hoping to get a job in Capital Trading, which he does.
Slowly and steadily, Rizwan manages to make a mark at work. A chance meeting with Shakun at a party sets the ball rolling for Rizwan’s rise in the financial world. With every successive trade and every successful deal, Rizwan thinks he has entered Shakun Kothari’s inner circle. With Rizwan is his colleague Priya Rai, who is as ambitious as he is. The two enjoy the high-flying life and everything seems to be working well.
As luck would have it, Shakun offers Rizwan a deal he cannot refuse, the chance to own a company. Rizwan quits his job and buys a stake in a telecom company. Back home, his father and sister are also happy with his success. But his company loses big in the stock market and ends up in SEBI’s firing line.
When he is investigated, some unsavoury truths are revealed and Rizwan realises that his downfall is Shakun’s doing. He decides to bring him down in a game of emotion versus money.
The story of Baazaar reminds one of the Michael Douglas-Charlie Sheen starrer Wall Street but the similarity ends with the relationship between the two men. The writers of Baazaar, Parveez Shaikh and Aseem Arora, let the story take on its own identity. The concepts of insider trading, hawala and stock trading are handled without getting into confusing details while allowing the plot to unravel in an interesting manner.
Another thing that works for the story is that there are no black-and-white characters; every character is grey and follows their own moral compass. Full marks to Gauravv Chawla for executing the written material so well. The subtle use of Gujarati dialogue and culture in the scenes adds to the authenticity of the characters. The movie also look right, not only the characters but the entire set-up has been carefully constructed. So, whether the opulence of Shakun’s home or the Jain prayer hall, every detail is right.
The use of the fourth wall is an interesting way to tell the story and the twists and turns in the plot add shock value. Jon Stewart Eduri’s background score is top-notch and fuels the drama.
Performance-wise, Saif Ali Khan as Shakun Kothari is fabulous. Whether the Gujarati accent or the shrewdness of Shakun, he captures every nuance perfectly. He may not do a lot of films, but Saif once again proves that he has a lot to offer and there is no role he cannot sink his teeth into. He is the driving force of the movie and at no point does he lose his grip on either the character or the plot.
Rohan Mehra, who makes his debut, makes a decent Rizwan Ahmed. His scenes with Saif, especially the confrontational ones, stand out. Radhika Apte as Priya Rai and Chitrangda Singh as Shakun’s wife Mandira play their parts well. The fact that the women are not relegated to showpieces in what could have become an all-boys show makes Radhika’s Priya and Chitrangda’s Mandira stand out. Manish Chaudhary as the investigating officer from SEBI leaves an impact.
Verdict: Brilliantly written and executed, a film not to be missed! The film may not have taken a flying start but it has elements to pick up with word-of-mouth!