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Encounter the killing

FOR QUITE a while as the movie rolls you wonder whether this is yet another gangster film with plenty of hostility and gun-toting criminals chased by the police. But as it moves, you begin to comprehend that this is a venture to show the human side of policing. And that policemen are not always brutal unless they are forced into a corner.

Some have a heart of gold and try to keep the finer aspects of character intact, in spite of the cold professionalism they are expected to display at all times. And every now and then when one of them tries to be more a human being than a police officer, he is misunderstood, berated and not allowed to prove the efficacy of his humane approach to crime-doers. Well at least this is what the film attempts to do. But fails to be effective enough thanks to the unnecessary songs and dances, several caricatures of characters, some truly amateurish performance and too much noise.

Police officer Sam Bharucha (Naseeruddin Shah) is honest, hardworking and a person with strong self-worth. He believes in reforming people instead of condemning and punishing them. But circumstances force him to shoot a gangster, a young college dropout who was on the verge of surrendering. And life changes for him.

They were four of them — the boys! They had resorted to shooting people at the behest of the underworld, for money. Just that and nothing else! They happen to kill a hotel owner and flee to Shrivardhan for refuge. One of them is caughtand he confesses to the participation of the other three. The police are now hot on their trail.

In the meantime, while they are in hiding, one of them known as Lalya goes through pangs of regret and is keen to turn over a new leaf. But before all this happens they are surrounded by the police headed by Sam Bharucha and in the chase they are accidentally shot and killed with Bharucha pumping bullets into the ready-to-repent Lalya, whose real name happens to be Sunil Rao — a boy from a very good family. While the bodies of the other two are claimed by the parents and guardians, Lalya is left in the mortuary as no one comes forward to claim the body — despite several notices in the newspapers and on television

Enter Punappa Avadhe (Dilip Prabhawalkar — a Marathi stage actor) a liquor shop owner and an erstwhile gangster. He claims to know whose son Lalya is and challenges Bharucha to confront the man. Does Punappa really know Lalya's family ? Can Bharucha believe this paan-chewing, disgusting looking character to ensure that Lalya gets a decent funeral?

The ideas in the film are indeed commendable — they try to explore why decent boys from good families turn to crime. What is it about living dangerously that appeals to them so much that they end up ruining their lives forever?

And then just as gangsters are ruthless when it comes to killing someone who betrays them, the police too are forced to kill some of them in encounters rendering many families desolate. Above all, the police have a hard task ahead of them. Do they behave brutally with criminals who wreak havoc on several families or do they look at them — specially the young ones — with compassion because they may be involved in just a superficial manner or forced into it? There is a vast gap between the idea and the way it has been presented.

With the presence of one of the finest actors we have — Naseer — one would expect the film to reach great heights. Instead many overdrawn, clichéd scenarios overshadow his brilliance.

As for Tara Deshpande, who plays a reporter, it would have been better had she some idea of what TV reporting is all about. Since when has only one crime reporter made it to the scene of action and badgered people for responses? And that too dictating to the cameraman most condescendingly which angle to take?

Written and directed by Ajay Phansekar Bhagavati Samarth/ Shringar Films Pvt Ltd, "Encounter the killing", also has Akash Khurana, Ratna Pathak Shah, Avtar Gill. Music and background score, which is pretty routine, is by Amar Mohile with lyrics by Sanjay Churmure and Rajan Bane. Camera work by B. Laxman has captured some very nice looking frames despite some of the lukewarm characters that fill it.

CHITRA MAHESH

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