What really sets the film apart from around a dozen gangster films one has seen since the days of 'Company' is the game of chess that takes the narrative forward. Really, it is innovative to the core and also keeps the audience engaged as it enables the story telling to take an unpredictable and dangerous route.
A mysterious billionaire (Kay Kay Menon) in the posh penthouse of Malabaar Hills, Mumbai, gets into a game of chess with an upstart decently educated gangster (Gautam Sharma) and hears his life story in the process. With every move made on the chess board, there is an episode being told, something which is not merely metaphorical in appeal but is also literal at most places. It is this back and forth movement, both on the board, in the luxurious living room and during the flashback sequences that give BBI the kind of edge that is indeed striking.
So even as local dons Pawan Malhotra and Piyush Mishra argue that 'boys are going out of their hands', the youngsters here (Gautham Sharma and Prashant Narayanan) are playing their own game. The only difference is that while one of them is inside the game, another - in his own words - is closely studying it from the outside and planning his own moves.
However a complain point here - The film ends on a depressing note when it had all the trappings to be a euphoric experience, something that it indeed turns out to be till 10 minutes before the end credits title roll. Ok, so director Ankush Bhatt wanted to take an idealistic route but then in a film like BBI which had stayed on to be a dramatic thriller for most part of the journey, it would have been better off to end on a high.
Even otherwise, the love story between Gautham and newcomer Shweta Verma irritates. There are 5-6 scenes between the young couple but frankly all of that could have been better erased from the script itself. On the contrary Vedita Pratap Singh track pretty much works as she brings on an unabashed display of sleeping around with 'the power', not 'the men'. However Shilpa Shukla's one sided love for Prashant, for all it's similarities with Kashmera Shah-Sushant Singh track in 'Jungle', is a speed breaker as well.
Having said that, if one ignores these (unwanted) pieces, there are several moments that stay on with you as the two hour story unfolds. Pawan Malhotra's chilling opening sequence with Piyush Mishra, Gautham-Prashant run on the busy streets, the point where Piyush is all set to kill Prashant, a couple of scenes featuring Jackie Shroff (in a special appearance) and then the entire dialogue-baazi featuring Gautham and Kay Kay Menon - all of it is done quite well.
Amongst performers, Kay Kay Menon, Pawan Malhotra, Prashant Narayanan and Piyush Mishra deserve full marks; they are excellent. Gautham is decent and a couple of more films in the similar (dramatic) genre should enhance his skills further. Vedita has a very good screen presence though Shweta just manages to pass muster. Shilpa overacts. Dipti Naval is good. Jackie Shroff acts decently though looks haggard.
Dialogues are uniformly good though a section may be put off due to liberal dose of expletives and suggestive references. Cinematography is quite good and is in synch with the film. Background score deserves a special mention as well, especially during the tense dramatic moments during the game of chess.
'Bhindi Baazaar Inc.' (BBI) is an engaging and entertaining film. And this despite the fact that one has seen similar plots unfold in films as diverse as a classic (Company) and forgotten (Allah Ke Banday). Both films dealt with telling the tale of organised crime in the underbelly of Mumbai. The main difference here is that the entire conflict is about gaining control over a multi-crore business that starts with pick pocketing and takes a dangerous turn as it proceeds.