Back in 1999 when Vaastav had released, it had emerged as a good success at the box office. Over the years it went on to enjoy cult status amongst film lovers and especially the first decade of the new millennium saw quite a few films on underworld been made with a common man turning into a gangster. Mahesh Manjrekar, Ram Gopal Varma, Madhur Bhandarkar took forward this formula and exposed the stark reality of crime and criminals.
Though between 2010 and 2020 not many films were repeated in the same genre, Mahesh Manjrekar now brings on Antim – The Final Truth which picks the same thread of his Sanjay Dutt starrer Vaastav and asks one film old Aayush Sharma to fill in the big shoes. The good thing is that the actor actually tries and changes his entire persona to bring on a wronged-man act in this redux version. He in fact comes across as angry right from his younger days and hence the transition isn’t abrupt per se when he becomes a gangster in the unlikely city of Pune.
That said, it’s the world that he steps in which raises a few questions. Agreed that he had quite a lot of anger inside him since his farmer father Sachin Khedekar had to let go of his ‘zameen’ and turn into a poor coolie at a loading/unloading house. However, it is difficult to digest that why the youngster would commit the exact same crimes that had robbed him of his childhood.
It is to credit of Mahesh Manjrekar and his editor Bunty Negi that the drama moves forward well for most part of the narrative. Yes, the scenes featuring Salman Khan seem to be ‘placed’ as item sequences, especially in the first half. The scenes featuring him and Ayush are well done but then one expects a lot more volatility. The interval sequence is done well and from there on the second half has a lot of Salman Khan in there, that should help his fans cheer aloud. In fact the tricks that he plays (though seen in earlier movies also) to finish the gangs is done well too. However, one would have expected him to roar really loud at least once.
For a gangster movie, this one surprisingly stayed subdued at a few other junctures as well, especially when it comes to the love story. Frankly, given the kind of film that Antim – The Final Truth is, it could well have done away with the entire romantic angle. Here, what brews between Aayush and newcomer Mahima Makwana could well have done away with in entirety. Now that the actress doesn’t hold herself well on screen, it’s just that one is more invested in the rise of Aayush in the gangster space with several other characters coming together (Upendra Limaye being the most prominent) and hence you rather want to have a dekko at what happens there.
Nonetheless, the film does carry a message of crime doesn’t pay, but then it doesn’t stop either. There is a very important dialogue that Salman Khan mouths, which is thay ‘as police, we just supply raw material to the world of crime’. It does reveal the ‘truth’ and also makes you wonder whether the crime that unfolds is indeed ‘antim’.