lucknow central movie review: farhan akhtar’s band-drama fails to hit the right notes

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lucknow central is based on a real-life incident and is about a group of prisoners who form a band inside the jail so as to escape from there. farhan akhtar and diana penty play the main leads in the movie.

Lucknow Central, along with Simran, are the two big Bollywood releases of the week. Lucknow Central is based on a real-life incident and is about a group of prisoners who form a band inside the jail so as to escape from there. Farhan Akhtar and Diana Penty play the main leads in the movie, which boasts an eclectic cast. Here’s all you need to know about the movie…

Director: Ranjit Tiwari

Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Diana Penty, Gippy Grewal, Rajesh Sharma, Inaamulhaq, Deepak Dobriyal, Ravi Kishen and Ronit Roy

we certainly need more such stories but yes, they need to be told better too

Films that are based on real-life stories have a better connect with the audience. Farhan Akhtar’s Lucknow Central promises to be an account of a real-life story where jail inmates had formed a band and thus reformed their lives. All was hunky dory with the premise of the film and it had generated much curiosity too but when YRF announced a similar film featuring newbies, everyone was intrigued. Well, the story does sound great on paper. A musical revolution within the confines of a prison is the very definition of a good entertainer. However, while Qaidi Band failed to strike a chord with the audience, will Lucknow Central be successful in making an impact? Let’s find out…

What’s it about: Kishan Mohan Girhotra (Farhan Akhtar) is a typical small town boy with stars in his eyes. His days are spent struggling to cut an album of his own, that he wants to hand out to his idol, post which, he believes, his musical career will take off. Life’s not perfect but Kishan and his father are on a song. But their lives are turned upside down, when one fine morning, the police arrest Kishan on charges of murdering an IAS officer. Without chance at a fair trial, he is handed a lifetime imprisonment term and put behind bars. Kishan, staying true to his nature, tries to stay positive in the face of adversity till the day his case is transferred to the High Court, where the victim’s family appeals for a death sentence for him. Coincidentally, around the same time, there is a jail band competition that is being held in the jail where Kishan has being transferred to – the formidable Lucknow Central. Here, he is assigned a task by Gayatri Kashyap (Diana Penty), a NGO worker, to form a band. However, the internal politics of the jail poses a problem for Kishan, who is trying to plan an escape under the pretext of forming a band. The antagonist here, apart from the highly dubiously portrayed judicial system, is the jailer (Ronit Roy) of Lucknow Central.

What’s hot: The ensemble cast comprising the likes of Deepak Dobriyal, Ronit Roy, Rajesh Sharma, Ravi Kissen are a delight to watch. They provide the much needed depth to a story that was pretty one-dimensional. Farhan Akhtar tries his best to breathe life into Kishan. You can see the honesty with which he tries to convey first the innocence of Kishan, and then the angst as he accepts the futility of it all. The manner in which the story delves into the internal politics amongst the inmates of a jail is also commendable. Though, at times, it did remind me of the Bigg Boss house. A special mention to the Agneepath scene, that has been beautifully meshed into the narrative of the film.

Besides these things, some songs of the film do help take the story forward. Apart from the groovy Kaavan Kaavan, which is more of a reprised version, and stays with you, Meer-E-Karwaan and Rangdaari also manage to strike a chord.

What’s not: Well, a lot of things actually. Firstly, the film doesn’t take any time to establish Kishan as a character. It goes in for sympathy, trying to portray Kishan as this wronged guy, but fails to elicit empathy, which is so integral to the plot of films like these. It is necessary to get the audience to root for the underdog but throughout the film, I only found myself being a mere spectator, not really vouching for Kishan at any point in time. Secondly, apart from Kishan, all other characters seem like caricatures. The makers surely had no idea about the fifty shades of grey for all the characters in the film were either all black or all white. So, the jailer has all the elements that make him a MCP alongwith all the other bad, bad things he does, like ruling over the inmates as if he was Hitler himself. And then, on the other hand, you have Kishan, the wronged guy, who has accepted his fate. At a time when Bollywood is thankfully breaking free from such flat, lackluster portrayals, a film that conforms to the cliche is a bit of a turn-off really. Besides the obvious logical loopholes, the film also has a lot of unintentionally funny moments, which is never a good thing for a film like this one.

What’s more…at one point in time, the film got uncannily similar to Shah Rukh Khan’s Happy New Year. However, frankly, you would root more for Deepika and her dancers than Farhan and his band. Why, you ask? Well, for one, like some badly scripted reality show, the jail rock band competition seemed pretty one-sided from the word go. The jailer, who unwittingly, put up the band’s performance video on YouTube (He did that like it was a bad thing…go figure), had already made them into a star. And the MLA, whose idea it was to hold such a competition, was already a fan of their performance and was also benefiting from it, in terms of publicity. It was a given that he would award them the trophy. So unfair, right?

The Story and Trailer

Farhan trying to get his music heard but gets badly rejected. Then something happens and he lands in jail. Post that, he only hatches plans to run away from the jail and the best opportunity comes along when the prison is asked to prepare a band. That’s his cue and he assembles people to do just that. It looks gripping, especially because, Farhan will get ample support from the rest of the cast. We spotted Deepak Dobriyal in it and now we know why we will definitely watch the film.

The Music

Since the movie is about a group of prisoners forming a band, music has to be the core of the film and it has to connect with the listeners. Thankfully the soundtrack of lucknow central largely succeeds at that, though we miss an angst-filled rock number like Hulchul from qaidi band, a movie with a similar theme released a month ago. Still, the album is overall pleasant, and I will recommend it solely for Rangdaari.

Celeb Reviews

Bareilly Ki Barfi actress Kriti Sanon took to twitter and shared, “Watched #LucknowCentral !!Love the film for its unusual concept that keeps u entertained with great performances! love the climax!” Ayushmann Khurrana also shared, “#LucknowCentral is a great mix of music, fun &thrill. Fav scene is when @FarOutAkhtar walks in with the Bachchan film playing and the climax.” Dia Mirza also took to Twitter and shared, “Saw #LucknowCentral last night. A film with such good intention and absolutely amazing performances by ALL! @FarOutAkhtar @DianaPenty

Box Office Prediction

Since Lucknow Central is releasing along with Simran and both are small in their scale, this is what Akshaye Rathi, Exhibitor-Distributor has to say about them, “Both are interesting and have the potential to entertain the audience substantially, subjected to them being good films. Honestly, neither of them will open very big. Both the films will entirely depend on word of mouth. Both should open in the range of Rs 2-3 crore on day 1. They will essentially grow with word of mouth. Ultimately it’s all about which one has a better content and the one does, will grow over time and do well.”

What to do?

Lucknow Central isn’t a fun watch, it isn’t enlightening, says nothing new and wants you to root for its protagonist without making any effort to help you connect to him. As a film, it fails in its purpose of making an impact. And yet, the novelty of seeing inmates being offered a chance at reformation is refreshing. We certainly need more such stories but yes, they need to be told better too.

Lucknow Central has an interesting premise and an equally interesting cast. The songs are good, and the early reviews are in favour of the movie. Like Akshaye said, the movie may take a slow start at the box office, but once the positive feedback pour in, the collections could pick up like what happened with Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan.

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