Director: Gauravv K Chawla
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Chitrangda Singh, Radhika Apte and Rohan Mehra
Rating: 3.5 Moons
First things first. Gauravv K Chawla’s Baazaar ain’t Wall Street. Neither the 1987 version with Michael Douglas nor 2013 with Leo DiCaprio playing the Wolf. The first was directed by Oliver Stone; the second, by Martin Scorsese. So don’t go looking for the Douglas or DiCaprio in Saif Ali Khan. He’s done a fantabulous job by himself. And this after Sacred Games, has pitched Saif right back in the game. Good for him.
Baazaar is familiar old Dalal Street in Mumbai. It is the Bombay Stock Exchange where Saif is the Gujju Guru of Greed Shakun Kothari. He is deeply religious and a family man but worships money. Ruthlessly charming and delicately dangerous as he manipulates the market, taking over companies, grinding friend and foe into the dust, playing superhero to his daughters when he tells them bedtime stories, dressed like he’s on Wall Street. You love to hate him.
Debutant Rohan Mehra is Rizwan Ahmed, early in the film he fights his father’s efforts in Allahabad to stifle his Mumbai dream, moves to the big city effortlessly with his small-town rags-to-riches story, falls victim to the dazzling sex appeal of the devious Priya Rai (Radhika Apte, outrageously hot), willy-nilly finds his way into Shakun’s inner circle of stock market sharks, is used like a pawn, and ends up on the precipice with a bottle of vodka in his hand like he’s ready to follow the leap to his death Shakun’s earlier broker took when things got hot.
It’s a bullish tale of greed, power and morality where the women, Radhika Apte as the glamorous stock hustler and Chitrangada Singh as Mandira Kothari (Shakun’s wife) have worthy roles right till the end. It’s also a good versus evil tale with a fair share of glitches that any stock market type would dodge like a bad investment but move on and continue playing the game. Watch it for Saif Ali Khan first, he’s got power in his gaze, menace in his stride, the brokers part before him like the Red Sea before Moses when he enters the ring.
Watch it also for the class of Chitrangda and the sass of Radhika. Finally, for Rohan Mehra who tries in his debut to get it right and does admirably well up to the point when he realizes he is against both Shakun and Saif. Gauravv Chawla is no Stone or Scorsese, but Baazaar doesn’t require him to be, because Saif is not trying to be Douglas or DiCaprio. He’s the Dada of Dalal Street.