Cast: Ananya Panday, Ishaan Khatter, Jaideep Ahlawat
Director: Maqbool Khan
Production: Zee Studios
From the time the meter is down, you know that you’re back to the single screen cinema of the 80s.
Four characters summarise the cab ride: a childhood attraction between Blackie (Ishaan Khattar) and Pooja (Ananya Panday) in their chawl days, a rich man called Chokshi (Swanand Kirkire) who holds on to his loins and waits for 10 years to claim Pooja and a criminal called Yusuf Chikna (Jaideep Ahlawat) who has promised to deliver her to him when she turns 18.
When a runaway bride bumps into Blackie who’s now a taxi driver, revealing that she’s Pooja from his childhood hardly amounts to a spoiler. For that’s how director Maqbool Khan’s film unspools with a no-surprises script by Sima Agarwal and Yash Keswani.
Blackie the taxi driver who got his name as a black marketer outside cinema halls has been on the run ever since Yusuf Chikna had forced him to leave Pooja stranded.
A mela where the villains turn up to grab Pooja and Blackie doing a U-turn because he’s realised that the girl means more to him than a bagful of gold are familiar banalities. As are dialogues like mandi ki randi and Blackie’s tapori swagger.
Armed with that screenplay, you don’t really expect Maqbool Khan to serve more than ho-hum split screens, innumerable flashbacks and the taxi changing colour at whim.
Searching hard for the positives, mercifully, despite the flesh market premise, there’s no sleaze and Pooja is feisty.
Although Satish Kaushik plays a dimwitted policeman and you know how his scene with Blackie will unfold, his reference to Sholay and Dhoom as flops is amusing. And Blackie’s real name being Vijay Chauhan is acceptably silly.
It’s also apt casting refreshing to see new faces Ishaan Khattar and Ananya Panday who bring energy to the dances. Ishaan is also agile in his heroic action sequences. The frequent hark back to childhood is annoying but Deshna Dugad and Vedant Desai play Pooja and Blackie competently. Especially Vedant who’s like Junior Mehmood of the 60s.
But the ticket money of Rs 299/- may please be saved for a more entertaining ride that you can get right there seated in your drawing room.