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Director :
Starring :
 Raam Shetty
 Om Puri, Audhitya Singh, Sheetal Bhavishi, Ashish Vidyarthi, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Shivaji Satam, Reema Lagoo and truckloads of goons

Subhash K. Jha, IANS Send to Friend

There's bound to be a surfeit of bone-crunching action when a stunt coordinator turns to direction. And sure enough Raam Shetty, who earlier adapted "Sholay" with Sridevi in the lead as "Army", unleashes a flamboyant feast of fury in "AK- 47".

In a week simmering with variety, "AK-47" can be labelled the consummate potboiler. It makes no bones about its bone-cracking ambitions, and it spares no effort to give the audiences a messy evening-out.

Remade from a Kannada blockbuster, "AK-47" gets blast marks mainly for its unalloyed intentions. Shetty doesn't pretend to deploy the twin-towers of international terrorism and national anarchy as anything but formulistic fodder for his pumped-up action film.

Every trick in the book of mayhem finds its way into this revenge saga. Presumably playing a neo-avatar of Sunny Deol in Raj Kumar Santoshi's "Ghayal" and "Ghaatak" (like the former, the vigilante-hero kidnaps an important government official in the climax to get justice, and like the latter the hero is a boy from Varanasi battling corruption in Mumbai); debutant Audhitya Singh is cast as the rebellious collegian turned mutinous social outcast.

He single-handedly decimates all the baddies, from the campus goon to a Dawood-like gangster (played by a super-hammy Ashish Vidyarthi) fantasising about 'taking over' Mumbai from Dubai.

Looked at logistically, it's a queer concoction making little sense to the intellect. But who said anything about intelligence? Escapist potboilers don't follow the rules of rhyme or reason. "AK-47" has neither. It sucks the audience into a ferocious formulistic whirlpool of whacked-out thrills and demoniacal drama.

In one sequence, Om Puri, playing an honest cop with a churlish chip on his shoulder, marches into a hospital and shoots a wounded terrorist point-blank commenting, "You don't deserve to live."

The action sequences are designed in a kitschy kaleidoscope to show off the film's view of life on the dangerous edge. In one sequence, the protagonist Rudra, accused of terrorist activities, escapes from prison swathed in the Indian flag. The cops lower their guns helplessly.

You can't shoot at national pride, but aiming at the basest instincts is just fine.

Quite obviously, a film of this nature must not be judged by the rules applied to this week's other films -- the raw and real "Satya Bol or the fluffy "Popcorn Khao Mast Hao Jao". It's nevertheless interesting to see how differently the three debutant heroes this week are projected.

While Manish Singh in "Satya Bol" and Akshay Kapoor in "Popcorn..." are like the multiplex versions of Manoj Bajpai and Shah Rukh Khan respectively, Audhitya Singh in "AK-47" aims to project the streetside grit of Bachchan and Deol -- but without the sinewy undertones or any pretension to skilled acting.

Curiously, the debutant never flexes his muscles. He restricts his anger to clenched jaws. Except for Om Puri (who seems as thrilled shooting guns from rooftops as he's playing an aging Mithun Chakraborty in "King Of Bollywood"), the rest of the cast is frankly unappealing.

Shrill, shallow and shrieked-out "AK-47" is the pavement-friendly actioner that you thought had ceased manufacture in Bollywood's dream factory. But it's back. And what can we do about it?

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