Planet Bollywood
Ab Tak Chappan
Producer: Ram Gopal Verma and K. Sera Sera Entertainment
Director: Shimit Amin
Starring: Nana Patekar, Revathi, Yashpal Sharma, Nakul Vaid, Prasad Purandare, Jeeva, Hrishita Bhatt (guest appearance)
Music: Salim-Sulemain
Lyrics: -
Genre: Drama
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Film Released on: 27 February 2004
Reviewed by: Ron Ahluwalia  - Rating: 7.5 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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Quantity versus Quality? Who will win? In this case, as in almost every case involving the Ram Gopal Verma Film Factory, both. Despite it possibly being the fifty-sixth production in three years from RGV, Ab Tak Chappan does not lack its entertaining properties in the least and thoroughly satisfies. However, the film doesn’t even approach the leagues of Bhoot, Company, or the splendid Ek Haseena Thi. Ab Tak Chappan does come apart at the seams a bit, but manages to regain its composure, proving it to be an imperfectly enjoyable experience.

The sect of the Mumbai Police Department responsible for handling the underworld is headed by Sadhu Agashe (Nana Patekar). Sadhu is the city’s best inspector, with an enviable reputation and record of encounter shootings. His immediate junior, Imtiyaz Siddiqui (Yashpal Sharma) despises Sadhu to no end; he feels Sadhu intentionally belittles him. To add to his woes, Imtiyaz is unable to surpass Sadhu’s encounter "score". Enter Jatin (Nakul Vaid), a rookie to this line of policing who manages to please Sadhu. The inspector takes the newcomer under his wing, further antagonizing Imtiyaz. During these events, Sadhu establishes a love-hate friendship with Zameer (Prasad Purandare), a notorious underworld leader.

Sadhu Agashe’s world begins to turn upside down with the entrance of the new commissioner, Suchek (Jeeva), who takes a liking towards Imtiyaz. Eventually, the pressures of his career take a toll on his personal life and Sadhu is compelled to resign from the force. In a peculiar chain of events, Sadhu Agashe, a once famed inspector, becomes a fugitive of the law.

What’s most shocking about Ab Tak Chappan is the vast absence of originality! It seems as though there are only two places in India that are plagued by the corrupt link between politics, the police, and the underworld: Bihar and Mumbai, both of which have been over exposed recently in movies like Gangaajal, Khakee, even Calcutta Mail.

Furthermore, the treatment of characters offers nothing new to the viewers: the commanding leader of a police station who everybody respects; the rookie who practically worships the leader and plays a pivotal role in leader’s mission; the jealous junior and the venal commissioner. These portrayals have been witnessed on countless other occasions.

Finally, the industry is being bombarded by the latest trend of police movies, with Gangaajal, Khakee, Kagaar, and the upcoming Aan being prevalent in many peoples’ minds. A Ram Gopal Varma flick that has a banal presentation and has succumbed to industry fashion? Is that possible? Not entirely...

Despite the oft-repeated topic, director Shimit Amin is able to inject a level of freshness in his handling of the script. Mainstream police movies are never this real and a true cine-goer will be able to appreciate the authenticity. The depiction of the corrupt system has never been so raw; exactly who is in cahoots with whom remains a mystery until the climax, keeping the audience’s ears glued to every word. The one-sided competition between Imtiyaz and Sadhu is very well–almost too well–layed out. The treatment of the lighter side of an officer’s life, his home, is also brilliant. Nana Patekar and Revathi, despite not having many scenes together, radiate a chemistry that was last seen between Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini in Baghban.

The RGV stamp of approval is evident through the atmosphere and culmination of events. There is no parallel comedy track or love story; everything is kept very subtle. Moreover, the film ends in a situation that his not completely just, nor completely grim. Shimit Amin’s choice of ending is highly appropriate. After E. Niwas, Rajat Mukherjee and Sriram Raghavan, Shimit Amin is a RGV protégé to reckon with!

Nothing more than technical superiority could have been expected from Ab Tak Chappan. Cinematography doesn’t get much better than this! The editing is top-notch, just like it was in Ek Haseena Thi and Bhoot. Salim-Sulemain are fast becoming regulars in Film Factory productions and rightfully so–their background score is marvelous. A Nana Patekar movie is incomplete without witty dialogues and Sandeep Srivastava lives up to the challenge with élan.

Obviously, the film belongs to Nana Patekar, who inspires awe into a role that was practically played out by Bollywood. It’s great to see true thespians triumph. Yashpal Sharma has improved from his pathetic performance in Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost, but doesn’t completely impress. Nakul Vaid springs a surprise with a restrained performance– he even steals a few scenes from Patekar himself! Somebody give this man a lead role! Jeeva is adequate as his character seems to be a negative take on Mohan Lal’s role from Company; his striking resemblance to Ashutosh Rana helps in his overall influence. Prasad Purandare is competent. Revathi is a delight to watch, regardless of a small role. Hrishita Bhatt literally has two scenes–enough said.

Ab Tak Chappan is a good movie and a recommended movie, but not a perfect movie. It won’t completely cater to those who are in the mood for some feel-good entertainment, or those looking for cinema that charts new waters. Don’t run for this one because it says Ram Gopal Varma on the cover. If you’re expecting another Satya or Company, you will be disappointed. Guaranteed.

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