Well, the movie was fine, low budget and quick moving and all that. But the overall arc of the story was really interesting in a way that makes me want to read the book it is based on, because it doesn’t go quite the way you think it will.
Whole plot in two paragraph:
There is Bobby Deol, our older mentor hero, and also 3 (or 5?) young heroes. Unfortunately, I was never able to fully understand the difference between the young heroes even to the point of not being sure if there were 3 or 5, so my plot description is going to treat them all the same. We start in 1982 at the police training academy. The 3 worst students in class are desperate to do better, especially to impress the legendary Dean of the college who is a hero cop put here on punishment duty. They are angry at their lecturer who keeps catching them on tiny details and go to his quarters to beat him up, where they are stopped and beaten in turn by the mysterious Dean Bobby Deol. Bobby now has an idea. He talks it over with his old friend and second in command. He is frustrated with the modern police force, in which corruption and bribes have become the order of the day, and the new students who are booksmart and out for success. But the 3 lowest students in class are throwbacks, not booksmart or street smart, just dedicated to being police officers. Bobby starts a separate series of lessons focused on teaching these 3 to be tough and smart. After graduation, he reveals his plan to them. He was put on punishment duty after he left his dying wife’s bedside for a chance to capture the biggest gangster in the city. The gangster escaped, and the only person Bobby told of the plan was his politician boss. He confronted the politician for his obvious corruption and in punishment was put in charge of the training academy. Now he wants to seed this young cops into the department to cure it from the inside. They should be “encounter” specialists, work their way up the gangs until they reach the top with his guidance.
Time moves fast after this. The 3 cops manage their first encounter working as a team, and then start moving up and up the ranks, encounter after encounter, the smart ones providing cover for the shooters. One of them gets married and has a child, meanwhile Bobby’s estranged son gets married too and has a daughter he names for Bobby’s dead wife. The gangsters are scared, and so are the politicians. But there is rot in our 3, two of them fall to taking bribes, not from gangsters but still bribes. And then an encounter goes wrong, they shoot a businessman instead of the gangster target they intended. And Bobby refuses to support them, says they have gone too far and he was wrong to encourage them in their power. In the midst of this, one of the 3 (recently engaged) is set up and killed. The remaining 2 decide with Bobby that it is time to go after the Big Bad. They kidnap the Big Bad’s young daughter to set him up for a meeting, then finally kill him. The biggest twist is in the end credits cards. The young cops are brought up on charges, admit to everything, and are punished. The corrupt politician is brought to justice but his son picks up where he left off. And Bobby Deol quits the police to run for office against the politician.
So many interesting ideas here! First the idea that the worst students in the training school are the most promising cops, that the whole school structure is set for the smart uncaring ones to succeed, not the ones who care the most. Then Bobby’s idea of teaching the same lessons to all the students, but only the special students will get his true meaning, that’s clever too. Seeing the awkwardness of the young men coordinating their first encounter from their positions at the lowest places in the department is very cool. And then the real brilliance, the twist that they are only human, as they succeed and get more confident they fall to the sin of pride. Encounters have a limited value, can easily go too far. And these young men deserve to be punished, no matter how “heroic” they are some of the time, they still need to face the law.
Or not “law”, but “order”. The repeated phrase of the film is “Law and order, order is more important because without it there can be no law”. When the city is in chaos, when there is no “order” available, then you need something more than law. However, these extralegal forces of “order” must be careful not to themselves fall to “chaos” around them. Bobby sets up these young men without fully considering what he is unleashing. He sees them as a throwback to the cops who came up with him, and they are, dedicated and a little foolish but brave and loyal. Only the world is different, there is too much graft around them, too much danger, they can’t use the methods and rules he gives them.
The film also has really interesting “chaos” examples! There are tons of films about the disorder of the 90s, the gang wars in the city, the extortion, the kidnapping, and so on. But this is about the 80s, when the mills were closing and the workers were protesting, and when the dangerous rebel threat to India was coming from the Sikhs in Punjab. Workers were in the streets, and weapons were streaming in to gangsters from the falling apart Khalistan movement up north.
So, yeah, good book but too much information for a movie. Great setting, great background information, great interesting character journeys. But just too much to grasp in a film, especially a 90 minute film.
It’s still an okay movie, those story elements are good, and there are lots of little nice set pieces, but it’s a bit too confusing and fast moving if you aren’t paying attention, or super familiar with the cop genre.