Welcome to Jailhouse Rock 2017.. yeh..!! A compere says, a passing flash of ‘The King’ of Rock N Roll Elvis Presley’s 1957 ‘Jailhouse Rock’ crosses your imaginations, wait there are still more to come. The noble idea to reform criminals DO ANKHEN BARAH HAAATH by V. Shantaram also passes by that came in the same year. Last month YRF’s QAIDI BAND – the prison escape drama that tried in vain to speak about justice, innocence, liberation laced with no hum music makes an echo. Does LUCKNOW CENTRAL led by Farhan Akhtar and his band of bandis (prisoners) which is based on the same tune (read premise/idea) is a proper or better tribute to real The Healing Hearts Band?. Let’s ‘sing’ (find) it out.
Well the Farhan Akhtar led band certainly has a far better casting on paper with the refined talents of Deepak Dobriyal, Rajesh Sharma, Inaamulhaq & Ronit Roy in particular promising a better ‘dhun‘ (read tune) to the melody of this jail break musical dramedy. Surprisingly, it’s the pigeon (Teen Kabootar song) and the hilarious Ravi Kishen that steals the limelight.
First timer Ranjit Tiwari helms this one from a script written by him in association with Aseem Arora and opens decently with an aspiring singer from Moradabad Kishan Mohan Girhotra (Farhan Akhtar) trying his luck to make his own band. One day a chance to meet the popular singer from the Hindi heartland Manoj Tiwari (playing himself) takes an ugly turn as Kishan gets charged with the murder of an IAS officer in his hometown Moradabad. Sentenced to life imprisonment in a court scene that requires a whole bottle of pudin hara and hajmola to digest but still the unconvincing episode gives you burbs of indigestion. Further, he gets a death sentence after 18 years and shifted to Lucknow Central jail. CM Pawan Singh Chaturvedi (Ravi Kissen) wants to have a competition between bands of prisoners in the state of U.P. Lucknow Central jail becomes the venue and in a hilarious scene Pawan Singh orders IGP (Virendra Saxena) to form a band in the jail. The band will perform at the coming Independence Day function. An NGO worker Gayatri (Diana Penty) who works for the reformation of prisoners is given the responsibility to form the band.
Kishan makes use of this opportunity and forms the band. Victor Chattopadhyay (Deepak Dobriyal), Parminder Singh Gill (Gippy Grewal), Purushottam Madan Pandit (Rajesh Sharma) and Liyakat Ansari (Inaamulhaq) agree after initial resistance. Kishan has a plan to escape on the eventful day but a tough jailer (Ronit Roy) who is guarding the Lucknow Central jail for 15 years won’t let the birds escape.
On paper this looks like a thrilling musical but the glaring loopholes and lack of characterization make LUCKNOW CENTRAL an indigestible and unconvincing jail escape adventure.
At one hand you have the band members piling up with their half baked characterization and on the other hand you have the protagonist indulging in unconvincing acts. Kishen easily convinces Gayatri to take up the responsibility in forming the band. Why did Kishen has to pretend to be speech – impaired in front of the jailor to enter the cell meant for handicapped goes over your head. Kishen is a ‘hero’ the escapist cinema offers. He can do anything and god knows how he convinced his band mates is an unsolved mystery. An award for those who can find out what made him survive for 3 – 4 days with only water and no food in jail for a crime which he has not committed. He can plan the great escape, fight and sing at will and in between do some nain matakka (pleasant eye exchanges) with Gayatri who seems to have lost her thinking powers after her encounter with Kishen.
You will need to order extra balms to heal the wounds caused by the absence of material and graph in the characterization of Victor Chattopadhyay (Deepak Dobriyal), Parminder Singh Gill (Gippy Grewal), Purushottam Madan Pandit (Rajesh Sharma) and Liyakat Ansari (Inaamulhaq) and their sudden attachment with Kishen which is left by the maker to the viewers imagination. The reason behind having Tilakdhaari (Manav Vij) the goon in the prison is unexplained.
At one end the movie fails to get proper character sketch and on the other hand, the finely established paan -chewing jailor played by Ronit Roy doesn,t go much further. The Jailor senses that the band has a hidden agenda but hardly does anything to pose a challenge.
Ranjit Tiwari’s debut is alright but he is marred by his own script. The highlight is the ‘Kabootar song’ and the hilarious Ravi Kissen. Aseem Arora’s dialogues are fine at places.
Farhan Akhtar is fair but nothing great to talk about. Diana Penty looks beautiful but she is handicapped by a poorly written role. Deepak Dobriyal, Inaamulhaq, Gippy Grewal, Rajesh Sharma prove their worth but they don,t get proper meat in their role to add to the band’s beat in favour. Same with Ronit Roy who is honestly menacing in whatever the role has offered.
Other actors like Robin Das (Kishan’s father), Manav Vij, Virendra Saxena, Manoj Tiwari chip in with valuable support.
On technical front, Tushar Kanti Ray’s cinematography is praiseworthy. Production values are rich. Amit Ray and Subrata Chakraborty’s production design are fine. Charu Shree Roy’s editing is not up to the mark.
Musically, the music by Arjunna Harjaie, Rochak Kohli, Tanishk Bagchi in this supposed musical drama thriller has nothing to hum about. ‘Kabootar‘ song looks good while watching. ‘Kaavaan Kaavaan‘ is a known number marvelously sung by Sukhvinder and the track in the movie des good to the film. Arjunna Harjaie’s background score is fine.
Concluding it with a line said by the lovely Diana Pentyji in the movie which goes like ”kisi ko justice nahi milta, sirf good luck ya bad luck mlta hai”.
Ironically, the proposed on screen tribute to the Healing Hearts Band a band formed by prison inmates in the Adarsh Karagar on the outskirts of Lucknow, LUCKNOW CENTRAL was suppose to give a better justice to their story and musical glory but it’s our bad luck.