Is VICTORIA NO. 203 a comedy? Or is it a thriller? Or is it a 'masala' entertainer which tries to club in all genres and present a dish for anyone and everyone?
The answer to these questions is in negative as the dish that is finally served on the table doesn't quite make you go and congratulate the chef, in this case being director Ananth Mahadevan. At maximum, one ends up finishing the meal which doesn't have the kind of flavor which would make it you recommend it to others.
The film's basic premise is promising since at the very beginning the cards are laid wide open on the table. 20 minutes into the film and you know who are the bad boys [Jaaved Jaffri, Kamal Sadanah] and the bad girls [Tora, Preeti Jhangiani]. Each of them want their share of 100 crore worth diamonds that travel all the way from an exhibition to a Victoria.
After a Mission Impossible inspired theft sequence that does bring the film to a high, one would have expected to momentum to carry on but there are dramatic ups and downs in the plot which makes VICTORIA NO. 203 a bumpy ride.
While the introduction of Raja [Anupam Kher] and Rana [Om Puri] are done decently [a true homage to the cinema of 70s when the two crooks are trying to make their way out of a jail a la THE GREAT ESCAPE], one is shocked to see the way Sonia Vinod Mehra is introduced to celluloid. Agreed that the situation in the film requires her to in distress but something better could have been thought of. Jimmy Sheirgill makes a belated entry and though his character sounds interesting to begin with, the twist in his track doesn't quite shock.
What is absolutely shocking though is the flip-flop that happens in the film's production values from the very beginning till the end. At places, you feel like you are watching a polished product while at others the sets are tacky with heavy compromises being quite visible. That's surprising though because each of the films directed by Ananth Mahadevan in the past [DIL VIL PYAAR VYAAR, DIL MAANGE MORE, AKSAR] had something in common - they looked rich, boasted of good locations and were visually glossy.
But in case of VICTORIA NO. 203, the director seems to have been handicapped with the budget handed over to him. Otherwise how else could one explain Sonia's backyard which clearly looks like a studio set, the dream sequence which is so on-your-face sponsored by a popular cloth company and the film's climax which goes on and on and on in a small set erected for a South Indian film?
The film is salvaged only at a few instances and these are the ones where Anupam Kher and Om Puri try to rise over the script and mouth some funny dialogues in their own characteristic manner. Still, they don't quite comes across as a duo which could be hailed for it's camaraderie which would be remembered for years to come.
The film's narrative doesn't have any ups and downs as it remains pretty much stagnant on the lower side throughout. There is an occasional chuckle or two here and there but that too is pretty much diluted by an attempted love track between Jimmy and Sonia which doesn't work at all. Songs in the film are a further put-off as none of them are placed well at all and just come out of nowhere. Another one of those surprises since it comes in a film directed by Ananth Mahadevan who has a very good track record when it comes to music placement in each of his three aforementioned films.
One didn't expect Sonia to come up with a terrific performance in her first ever film but it is disappointing to see her being plain average. It could well be due to the kind of role she is required to enact but one looks at her polishing her acting skills even further in the coming films. Jimmy looks out of place with little to do though Preeti does rather well as