Planet Bollywood
Producer: Keshu
Director: K. Subhaash
Starring: Ajay Devgan, Akshay Kumar, Rahul Dev, Tusshar, Lara Dutta, Esha Deol, Koena Mitra
Music: Himesh Reshammiya
Lyrics: Sameer
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Film Released on: 14 January 2004
Reviewed by: Surjyakiran Das  - Rating: 4.5 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 410 viewers)
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Amjad (Akshay Kumar) is a penniless rickshaw driver in love with a rich girl, Heena (Esha Deol). Her parents, of course, oppose the lovers┬┤ union.

Ajit (Ajay Devgan) is a cop hunting a terrorist, Azhar (Rahul Dev), who happens to be Amjad┬┤s long lost brother. Azhar murdered Ajit┬┤s wife (Koena Mitra) years ago, inviting a death-wish upon himself.

While Ajit attempts to avenge his wife┬┤s death, he finds enough free time to fall in love with a woman Meghna (Lara Dutta), who happens to be Amjad┬┤s neighbor and friend. Soon, Amjad is involved in Ajit┬┤s manhunt for Azhar.

Finally, Avinash (Tusshar Kapoor) and Indu (newcomer Laila) are struggling actors who unwittingly become mixed up in the going ons as well.

If the synopsis sounds familiar, it┬┤s because "Insan" is a film that has been made in Bollywood many times before; there is nothing in this mindless kitsch that hasn┬┤t already been done to death by countless productions before it. The hackneyed plot, in fact, reads like a virtual check-list of the most trite Bollywood clich├ęs from the 80┬┤s and 90┬┤s.

Debutante director K. Subhash achieves little in the way of uplifting any of the material into the realm of watchability. His treatment is as tired as the material. The film has precious little to offer and fails to deliver both form and content; neither is there a single scene in the film that isn┬┤t entirely predictable, nor is there any technical flair or innovation on display to lend any sort of visceral appeal. Action films can often be excused for lack of narrative development if they deliver enough thrills, but "Insan" falters on both accounts. Musically too, the film has nothing to offer.

The ensemble cast, with many actors returning to work for producer Keshu after last year┬┤s immensely enjoyable "Khakee," also disappoints. Devgan, known to phone-in listless performances when the material on hand does not excite him, is outright boring to watch. One wonders why, if he intends to give so little to the role, Devgan even bothers to sign on to such films. Whereas Devgan doesn┬┤t even try, others try and fail. Even in his relatively small role, Tusshar Kapoor is unable to conjure even a hint of the forcefulness and conviction of a skilled performer. Likewise, Esha Deol overacts and fails to convince of her character. Lara Dutta┬┤s talent is wasted in a blink-and-you-miss-it role, and Koena Mitra shows more skin than promise as any sort of legitimate performer.

The lone actor worth watching in the enterprise is Akshay Kumar, who is continuing to solidify his status as one of the most versatile, bankable, and talented actors in Hindi commercial cinema today. His mirth-evoking turn strikes a near-perfect balance between artistic integrity and mass-oriented entertainment. Kumar serves as a reminder of the kind of aesthetic the film should have had - unpretentious about its populist intentions, but still sincere enough not to insult audience intelligence.

The film┬┤s glaring shortcomings render Kumar┬┤s dynamic performance all the more remarkable. He┬┤s achieved a rare transcendence over the shoddiness of the source material that few actors have been able to manage over the years. Indeed, if there┬┤s a single reason to watch the film, it┬┤s Akshay Kumar. Then again, one would be better off re-visiting Raj Kumar Santoshi┬┤s "Khakee" instead, which had not only a great performance from Kumar, but equally inspired work from Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan, and Aishwarya Rai as well. In contrast, "Insan," with its utter lack of charge and conviction, is just not worth it.

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