Aurangzeb starts off badly and then builds up to a point where you are blown away, but only in parts. The premise itself is preposterous. Double roles are an ancient blueprint for a film. What is it doing in this century? The last time we saw that done well was Farhan Akhtar’s Don (2006) which was itself based on the 70s original. Aurangzeb takes this ridiculous set-up extremely seriously, which could be its biggest undoing but also its achievement and I’d like to stick with that.
Ajay and Vishal (played by Arjun Kapoor), two identical twins separated in their infancy. One goes with the mother, the other with the father. The movie is mainly about daddy issues. The title itself points to the Mughal king who usurped his father to take the throne. The plot consists of an elaborate plan by the Gurgaon police to infiltrate a gangster’s real estate empire by sending the good son to take the place of the bad son. What happens after that are a lot of misfires and equal amounts of brilliance.
Aided by superlative performances and Zimmer-esque music, this film is a semi-winner. Rishi Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and Prithviraj are amazing. But there’s one scene where Rishi Kapoor knocks it out of the park and steals the film from the other actors. Arjun Kapoor holds his own despite getting a bit repetitive. Sasha Agha is appalling, I wish they had cast a better actress.
The second act of the film leading up to the finale is absolutely terrific. It starts with that one scene where Rishi Kapoor just knocks it out of the park (I know I said that before but I want to say it again because it’s that good). There are a few powerhouse moments when the is plot drawing to a close, like the one where Arjun Kapoor runs to save a character in slow motion. Or the three shootouts threatening to be the climatic end .They break out suddenly, but you are always involved in the action, unlike the climax of Shootout at Wadala. I also liked the scenes where we saw business meetings being conducted. This isn’t people pretending to be businessmen like we see in Hindi movies. These scenes have actual conversations where people are doing “sauda” (deals).
The premise may have been ridiculous but it is so well-plotted that it engages you in the family drama. It’s easy to be influenced by The Godfather (1972) when you make a father-son crime drama. I was impressed when the plot points did not fall into those traps. In fact, it admirably gives homage to the kind of dramatics Salim-Javed's screenplays regularly visited.
The sub-plot with the girlfriend is the film’s weakest link. The dialogues could have been better and the film could have been crisper. But there is a lot to like here. I would recommend you watch it, but with the knives in your pockets. Don’t expect a superb film but don’t try to stop yourself from savoring the moments where it almost becomes one.