The black bleakness attached to coalmines is nothing compared to the bizarre nonsense in the name of movies, mafias and the biggest myth of all, ‘mother’s love’. Koyelaanchal is the worst possible film that pretends to have any connection with any reality whatsoever.
This is not surprising, considering the director, Ashu Trikha’s previous debacle like 'Enemmy'. It is even less surprising when the lead star cast boasts of worn out wood chiseled Suniel Shetty and a still handsome but ineffective, weak voiced Vinod Khanna whose bright jackets and orange tikkas on the forehead, do nothing to make him look like a formidable mafia boss. Their city bred looks and flat diction are a far cry from their small town characters from backward Bihar backdrop.
Despite the low angled, slow motion, in-the -shadow introductory shots and constant loud explosions and a particular slap sound replay throughout the film, this Bihari goon, Surya Bhan Singh (Khanna) amuses more than terrorises. Even his Hanuman pujas are as old as Amrish Puri’s chants in Subhash Ghai films from the 90s.
The pretense at hard hitting reality starts with a historical beginning stating how the Government took over the coalmines business with the 1973 Coal Mines Act and this gave birth to the coal mafia in some Bihar belts like Jharia. The makers probably had ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ in mind.
However, you see nothing of any actual coalmine activities and so called ‘mazdoor’ exploitations except for undecipherable, long, poetic speeches. By now, Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha from ‘Kaala Patthar’ are deeply missed.
Yet, you bravely decide to hope for an uncut diamond somewhere deep buried within the loud and meaningless coalmine blasts and even louder background score.
Instead you find the most ridiculous tall rock in the form of a silent slave, Karua (Vipinno).The bare chest, sinewy muscles, long hair, cold eyes are meant to scare more than Gabbar. This heartless rock kills and shoots at his master’s orders. He then digs his hands into his bloody handiwork and writes with blood on walls. The villagers watch in shock and children simply wash their footballs off the splattered blood.
Karua’s activities move on to sleazier visuals just as the plot quickly shifts away from the new collector in town,Nisheeth (Shetty)out to challenge the mafia man. Karua visits a local prostitute, (Roopali Krishna Rao, the only decent actress trapped here unfortunately) who has a heart of gold beneath deeper blouse necklines than yesteryear Bindu’s.
The massacre king turns into a devoted slave when he is with the ruler of the coalmine township. He sits at his beloved and trusted God and‘malik’, Surya Bhan Singh’s pedicured feet. Slowly and lovingly, he washes them in a big tray. Then, carefully, he picks up the tray and drinks the holy water.
If this kind of filth does not disgust enough, there is more. Like a woman, stripped, stark naked, wailing in front of an entire village. Plus some violence in the form of naxalites who apparently “fall here straight from China” in a badly attempted dialogue humour. For a dose of some meaningful message thrown in, there is a documentary within the film, called “Budbak Bhansali”. Some real faces of the tribals suffering in silence, however, fail to make Koyelaanchal any more convincing. Just like those pseudo pictures of ‘real India’ in Facebook travelogues.
The story soon takes a bizarre turn from the ruthless world to the gentler ones of mothers, little village girls and babies. From landmine explosives, the sound effects mercilessly bombard us with shrill baby cries.
Hatred and violence is replaced with tender, loving Johnson baby care. We even see a baby kissing the picture of the silent rock monster, Karua.
Incidentally, that’s supposed to be the most meaningful moment in the film.
The baby at whom Shetty looks dumbfounded, in the end. His best expression ever.
Because it took him the entire film’s 2 hours 26 minutes to realize that the baby was the hero, not him.
No wonder then that Shetty throws up at one point. So might you.