Crew gives us one entertaining flight

Kriti Sanon, Tabu and Kareena Kapoor Khan in Crew. Photo: Spice PR

Only Manmohan Desai could have done a better job with the illogic here. Crew is a wacky recipe of fun that has been cooked as follows.

Take a threadbare storyline. Three girls, each with a singular back-story, develop a bond when they all get to join Kohinoor Airlines. They are Geeta Sethi, in-flight supervisor (Tabu), Jasmine Rana, senior flight attendant (Kareena Kapoor Khan) and Divya Bajwa, junior flight attendant (Kriti Sanon). To this, add a dash of naughty ‘girlie’ humor (in best Balaji Telefilms fashion but thankfully within esthetic limits here!). Put in three dollops of emotions: in sub-inspector Jaiveer (Diljit Dosanjh) who has fallen for Divya, also a wrestler in her younger days, Jasmine’s aged grandfather, Nanu (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), who has brought her up, and Geeta’s affectionate husband, Arun (Kapil Sharma), a chef who dreams of owning a restaurant in Goa.

The spice comes next: A fellow in-flight officer, Rajvanshi (Ramakant Dayama) dies on board, and on his body are discovered gold ingots. As no one else knows about it, the three girls stash the loot (how they come out of the airport safe is Manmohan Desai-Farah Khan-Rohit Shetty terrain!) and begin enjoying the spoils. They also investigate and unravel secrets and even become gold smugglers themselves, thanks to the corpse’s mobilephone! Seems Kohinoor Airlines is running into losses (as the crew’s pay-packets are either reducing or delayed) thanks to a scheming owner (Saswata Chatterjee) and his aide (Rajesh Sharma) who actually organizes the smuggling as a nest-egg so that they can decamp from the nation.

The dish next simmers with emotional upheavals for all three girls as they are arrested and interrogated after someone tips off the cops. Some smart investigative efforts by the girls boils over into a very simplistic way of recovering the stash, compensating the other crew that is in economic dire straits and bringing back the offender to Indian soil (he has subsequently absconded abroad).

(Phew! Wish such simple means were there for the real-life Indian offenders parked abroad!)

The recipe just stops short of being overcooked with the humor maintained as a sweet undercurrent throughout, even at the climax, like the icing on a cake. At the end, you relish a well-conceived screen dish that always looked appetizing (as in the trailer) but is actually tasty enough to be enjoyed. This is no exotic caviar: it’s just a homegrown thali that has add-on chutney and pickles in songs that are mainly recycled from the Tips Records repertoire (Choli ke peeche from Khal-Nayak whose riffs are used almost throughout, the cleverly modified Sona kitna sona hai from Hero No. 1 and the non-film Ila Arun rocker, Ghagra).

The female-centric film does not resort to clichés or overdone feminine tropes and steers clear at the same time of excess liberties that may offend universal audiences (the film has a UA certificate, equivalent to a Hollywood ‘PG’ certification). The cinematography (Anuj Rakesh Dhawan) is cheerfully bright and the editing (Manan Sagar) largely effective, though I would have rated the film higher had it been a linear narration as the cuts between past and present are initially confusing. The background score (John Stewart Eduri), as said, is Choli-heavy, but otherwise smarter than many recent outings of this composer as well as others.

The director (Rajesh A. Krishnan) is the man who had helmed the exhilarating OTT-released dark comedy, Lootcase, and now goes a lighter, more mainstream way, showing that he can handle ensemble-cast big-scale films with deftness as well. Scriptwriters Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri spin this writing with an open mind clearly inspired by the Manmohan Desai school of storytelling.

The best performance, ironically, comes from Ramakant Dayama as Rajvanshi, especially after he is shown as the open-eyed corpse. Ramakant has impressed in many films and web series and he is exceptional in maintaining the same deadpan (literally!) gaze even as the other characters freely move and talk in multiple sequences, unless, of course, it has been done with VFX.

High marks are in order for the three ‘sheroes’, and I think that Kriti Sanon, though often weirdly attired, wins the acting honors. It is as if she knew she had to compete with two stalwarts capable of scene-stealing and came prepared for every scene. Not that Kareena Kapoor Khan and Tabu pale in front of her: they are excellent in their own ways, especially Kareena’s fluid expressions and Tabu’s moods, and show their seasoned skills with consummate ease in these fresh characters.

Terrific turns come from  Trupti Khamkar as Sub-Inspector Mala and Charu Shankar as Mrs. Sudha Mittal, while Rajesh Sharma as her quirky husband is also effective. From the rest, special marks are deserved for Kapil Sharma as Arun (here is a talent who can be exceptional even in serious roles), Ivan Rodrigues as Divya’s father and Pooja Bhamrrah as Komal, but each actor fits his or her character’s shoes well, even the walk-on ones. And Saswata Chatterjee is correctly slimy and fake. The actress playing his daughter is indeed good in her cameo, especially on flight.

If you want to let your hair down, and enjoy some breezy mad-oranjan, join what is an entertaining flight with this Crew.

Anil Kapoor Films & Communication Network’s & Balaji Telefilms’ Crew  Produced by: Anil Kapoor, Ektaa R. Kapoor, Rhea Kapoor & Shobha Kapoor  Directed by: Rajesh A. Krishnan  Written by: Nidhi Mehra & Mehul Suri  Music: Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Anand-Milind, Ila Arun, Diljit Dosanjh, Badshah, Raj Ranjodh, Vishal Mishra, Akshay–IP & Bharg–Rohit  Starring: Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kriti Sanon, Tabu, Saswata Chatterjee, Rajesh Sharma, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Trupti Khamkar, Charu Shankar, Garima Yajnik, Ivan Rodrigues, Suparna Marwah, Ramakant Dayama, Pooja Bhamrrah, Myra Singh, Guest App.: Diljit Dosanjh, Sp. App.: Kapil Sharma & others



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