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Starring :
 Himesh Reshammiya
 Abhishek Bachchan, Bhoomika Chawla, Mahesh Manjrekar, Vijay Raaz

Subhash K. Jha, Send to Friend

It's not in the mushy-gory story, hell no! It's not even Abhishek Bachchan's endearing smile. If you must know what makes this new Tamil-to-Hindi adaptation nominally watchable is the way director Jeeva treats a very predictable story.

The tale is of a headstrong boy from a town who falls in love in the metro with the coy and simpering sister of a monstrously possessive gangster who, we are told, chops off a boy's limb for teasing his precious sister.

"Tum ho hi aisi. Would you prefer girls to tease you? Any boy would do what my son did," the boy's hot-blooded father tells the girl.

Polite niceties, as you can see, isn't high on this film's list of priorities. In fact a whole commodious parallel subplot featuring the insufferably aggressive Vijay Raaz runs through the main love story. Raaz calls his screen-dad (Anjan Shrivastava) every name in the book.

Elsewhere, the diffident and determined Siddhu (Abhishek Bachchan) glares at his poor brother-in-law (Mukesh Rishi) with such seeming malevolence that the poor guy becomes a cowering and cringing intruder in his own house.

These diversions in the main love story are quite amusing, provided you aren't finicky about the lack of originality and even basic logic in the plot.

You tend to balk at the very idea of the lover boy from Allahabad - a nice touch that, since it takes Abhishek back to his roots - being hounded by a gangster in Delhi.

Aren't gangsters a part of Mumbai's subculture? And shouldn't the brother-lover conflict have been more electrifying?

Otherwise, the film allows you to be indulgent towards Siddhu, a blunt small town boy who falls in love with the girl with a dreamy smile at first sight, and tells her so right away.

Cinematographer-director Jeeva shoots the entire film in a fading light. Romance, which is generally done in velvety colours, gets a granite treatment.

The sequence where Siddhu sees Jahanvi (Bhoomika) in the bus for the first time - now why on earth is a powerful gangster's sister's travelling by bus? - is a treat for the way Abhishek's smile and eyes light up the screen.

The character's blunt approach to love and violence are the film's main and perhaps only sustaining point. Siddhu makes up his mind that he loves the girl. Getting her is only a matter of time... and sustained violence.

A mood of casual inevitability and offhand violence runs across the plot. The southern directors know how to turn the corkscrew, even if the bottle is largely empty.

Contrary to its title, the film frequently loses momentum. The dialogues in the romantic scene are more improvisational and dramatic.

The romantic songs - tuned by Himesh Reshammiya as self-consciously trendy - are shot innovatively and with uncharacteristic humour. But they impede the film's fast and furious flow to its combative end where Siddhu and the girl's obsessive brother battle it out in the fist-to- fist, hand-to-hand climax.

The reason why the pedestrian plot rocked in Tamil was the antagonist played by Atul Kulkarani. In Hindi, Mahesh Manjrekar has already done the grimace-and-gore routine in "Kaante". His character fails to be either menacing or mirthful. The actor doesn't fail as much as the character. Manjrekar's Ganpati is plain exasperating.

What motivates the menacing mood is some expertly shot action sequences. The highlight of the Tamil fist-to-fist confrontation between Siddhu and a truckload of Ganpati's goons in a subway is also a highlight of this film.

Watching Abhishek play the larger-than-life hero for the first time is fun. Like his father he makes the action sequences look flamboyant and yet real.

Again like Manjrekar's Ganpati, Bachchan's Siddhu is an inconsistent character. In one sequence he's beaten unconscious by the goons. In another he takes them on Superman style! In one sequence, he hides when the goons spot him with the girl in a movie theatre. But in no time at all, he's throwing drawling challenges at the girl's abrasive brother.

More consistently portrayed is the love-hate relationship between Siddhu and his brother-in-law. In portraying mutual discomfort, both Abhishek and Mukesh Rishi arrive at a comfort level, denied to the other situations in the plot.

Tragically, beyond those shy smiles exchanged on the buses and stolen strolls down Delhi's by-lanes, there's little passion or intensity between the lovers. Most of the time the love birds behave more like two young people who are just getting to know each other rather than lovers who've decided to spend their lives together, come what may.

Abhishek's Siddhu is as endearing as Madhavan in the original. That abashed smile and those ever-talkative eyes convey the first flush of love and the rage at its denial. This film depends almost entirely on his charms to see it through. Abhishek is willing...and stable.

Exasperatingly, Vijay Raaz hogs as much footage as the leading man, if not more. In the 1960s, Mehmood would often be given as much chuckling space as the hero. But to allot the comedian the same footage in a film about intense love is to play disco-dandiya tunes during a romantic opera.

It's the old fashioned plot interweavement and its insouciant flaunting of banality that finally outruns the other virtues of "Run", namely some inventive action, stark cinematography and, of course, Abhishek.

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