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Shootout At Wadala is a gangster film that borrows from many gangster films and adds Bollywood masala to it. A perfunctory mix of the punches from Dabangg (2010) with the verve of Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai (2010). On paper, this is a formula that should succeed commercially. Inject high amounts of testosterone and add 3 item songs and you have a hit.
Surprisingly, Shootout at Wadala is engaging in parts. There is brazen dialogue-baazi and when it is delivered by seasoned actors like Anil Kapoor and Manoj Bajpayee, it is genuinely funny. Mahesh Manjrekar also gets his moments. After a point the dialogue-baazi takes refuge in abusing for no reason. It proudly says, “Be Indian, abuse Indian”. Thank you very much.
John Abraham plays Manya Surve, the college student turned body-builder turned gangster. He wants to be a good boy but gets tangled up in dirty business because of his brother. After going to jail, he turns over a new leaf of being a full-on badass. There is a ludicrous montage of him getting his gym training inside the prison. After watching that I knew my brain isn’t in for any kind of treat.
While it has good supporting actors, the main actors can’t hold a single scene together. John Abraham has always had limitations more than virtues but at least a few scenes where he makes an impact would have sufficed. Tusshar Kapoor is another actor who can’t play a character. He tries incredibly hard here but fails. That voice itself works against him.
Then there is the male chauvinism. Dabanggs and other potboilers have all had item songs, which objectify women and show men as lustful predators; here it’s overdone to the point where it just doesn’t bode well for anyone. There is one scene where a gangster openly says he would rape women as a part of gangster code. Only if the “item” is worth it. Good god. I am appalled in ways I don’t wish to address. Do filmmakers have no social responsibility towards their audience? Towards women?
I have also come to a realization that it is next to impossible trying to make a gangster film without having traces of The Godfather (1972) in it. It shows the everlasting impact of a masterpiece. It also exhibits the lack of originality present in films about crime.
The male population will flock to the single screens and whistle and applaud at the dialogues and item songs. They might even discover the new method of doing push-ups while making love. There is nothing for real men here though. By the time the actual shootout arrives, I had been put off by many aspects of the film and didn’t care what happens to the major players. The film goes on for too long and the "it's good to be bad" aphorism becomes stale. Overall, this film is strictly average.