By Subhash K Jha, IANS
It's not just heart, it also Seoul. The crowded lanes and the festive festering decadent setting adds considerably to the intensity level of this high-pitched drama of love passion, jealousy sacrifice, and atonement.
GANGSTER is not really a film about homicidal crime. Nor is it a film that dwells stylishly on the glossy exteriors of the high life. It focuses on the stark interiors of hearts that ruthlessly seek love in relentlessly self-serving places.
In what's possibly the toughest role written for a female newcomer Kangana stumbles across a minefield of volatile emotions. Never shy of exposing the inner-most contours of a lacerated heart and soul, writer Mahesh Bhatt gives us a love triangle between a girl on the brink Simran (Kangana), her GANGSTER lover (Shiney Ahuja) and the man who comes into her life to put balm on her frayed nerves.
Director Anurag Basu captures the desperate anxieties of the three- way passion play with high-voltage sequences each done in lush untried colours of life's most complicated trajectory. There's a curvaceous feeling to every swing and swerve of this dramatically done plot. The narrative offers surprises all through, with heart-stopping moments of suspense to punctuate the terse pauses between one dramatic high and another. It's hard to guess which way the feverish plot would finally go. Many moments capturing the girl's anguished dilemma remain clearly etched as illustrations of director Anurag Basu's ability to hold the dramatic pitch at a high decibel without toppling over the weight of over-statement.
Especially memorable is the GANGSTER Daya's arrest at the Seoul station. As he shrieks and protests against the injustice of a justice system that turns his love into a mocking betrayal the narrative tells us how difficult it is to take a moral stand on the question of right and wrong in the matter of love and morality.
Stylishly shot by cinematographer Bobby Singh, GANGSTER is a gripping tale where all three principal actors turn in competent performances. Emran Hashmi's strait-laced supportive-suitor's act is well balanced against Shiney Ahuja's smouldering crime-lord turned repentant lover's act. But the surprise package is debutante Kangana. From burnt-out alcoholic, to a woman in love and finally a woman willing to pay the ultimate price for her heart's peace… the girl goes through the complex gamut of emotions with a perceptible lack of selfconsciousness.
Like Mahesh Bhatt's early films GANGSTER takes us to the darkest recesses of the human heart where the devil and the saint are slyly affiliated. It's a film that isn't afraid to let its feelings show. And that's what makes it notches above the run-of-the-mill bang-bang-kiss-kiss fare.
So is this really Abu Salem's love story? By the end of GANGSTER you really don't care. The characters go far beyond the source material.