The story is set in the backdrop of 1999/2000 in Mumbai. Sachin (Kunal Khemu) and Zaramud (Cyrus Broacha) are thick buddies who do illegal duplication of SIM cards for a living. AGM (Mahesh Manjrekar) is a cricket bookie. Sachin and Zaramud are forced to work under AGM because they owe tons of money to him. Rahul (Boman Irani) is a gambler who loves to bet on cricket and play poker in illegal clubs at Delhi. AGM summons Sachin and Zaramud to recover the betting money from Rahul. In a strange circumstance, Sachin and Zaramud are forced to join hands with Rahul to save their neck from AGM. The rest of the story is all about how these three people play the game!
Kunal Khemu has improved in this film in terms of histrionics and looks. A different hair-do did the trick with his looks. He is excellent. Cyrus Broacha is at ease and provided comic relief. Boman Irani is superb. He epitomizes typical mentality of a gambler who is very good at heart, but has a strong weakness for gambling. Mahesh Manjrekar is extremely impressive as the bookie. Soha Ali Khan is adequate as partner in crime. Amit Mistry is amazing as the smalltime kingpin. Vinod Khana is perfect.
Story - screenplay - direction: Raj, DK and Sita Menon came up with an authentic storyline by inserting references to the events occurred in 1999/2000. The ongoing mobile phone revolution and eruption of betting scandals are well incorporated. The direction of the film is neat. Screenplay is pretty good. Hooking the initial accident to join three major characters, using of Rahul’s bag and ability of Rahul to read signs/people are well used in writing an interesting screenplay. On the flip side, the relationship between Kunal and Soha Ali is not properly exploited. The runtime of the movie is lengthy for a story like this as the main story starts only in the second half. I liked the following things in the movie –
1. Title cards: The way titles cards are made in this movie is highly innovative.
2. The scene in which Kunal slaps Amit Mistry. This is best scene of the movie. The character of Dimple adds lot of fun.
3. Cell phone: Kunal and Zaramud believes that using cell phone will affect your brain, heart and other parts. Boman flaunts the cell phone used in Matrix film. The discussions about the snake game also reminds us of the days when cellular market was penetrating in India.
4. Boman Irani character: His character is full of surprises and his ability to read signs is very good. The way he tried to appease his wife by saying ‘jaan’ is also good.
5. The final 20 minutes of the movie after the last cricket match is shown.
Other technical departments: Cinematography of the film is warm and realistic. Music is nice and reminds us a little of retro music like ones they use in Quentin Torantino movies. Dialogues are witty. Editing is fine. Art directions deserve special mention for capturing the late 90’s.
Analysis: Telugu directors duo Raj – DK started off their journey with a nice English film titled ‘Flavors’. Their second outing is this Bollywood flick ‘99’. Though it is a nice comedy thriller, it is an off-beat movie for the regular film lovers who enjoy the commercial cinemas in Bollywood. 99 is a hatke movie made on an interesting premise of cricket betting. It is a different movie and it will take time to sink in. The things that work against the movie are the runtime and the bonding between Kunal Khemu and Soha Ali Khan. If you want to see a different yet entertaining movie, 99 is the one for you!
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