First things first. SHOOT OUT AT LOKHANDWALA is not just a film revolving around the infamous shootout that happened in a residential locality in Mumbai. It is much more than that. While the shootout sequences forms a major part of the film [last 30-40 minutes], it is to the credit of the initial reels that create a base for it to make a hammer strong impact.
In the end what you get is a gritty drama that bridges the distance between realism and the commercial aspect of film making and this is where director Apoorva Lakhia deserves more than just a pat on his back. He walks the thin rope quite well and comes out with flying colors. Yes, the film has it's cops v/s gangster action and drama and credit it to Lakhia that he blends both the commercial and real factors into SOAL.
The film belongs to Sanjay Dutt and the man who challenges him hard for the coveted throne is none other than Vivek Oberoi. The two come face to face only twice in the film and when that happens, it is fireworks all around. The two truly make you forget everything that would have happened before or after their meet and are heads above everything and everyone else happening in the background.
As the numero uno cop and gangster respectively, both have a common agenda - shoot to kill. Unlike a 'chor-police' story that could have taken place on a street, the two balance it out well. The first time they confront at the interval point, there is not a moment when one can look away from the screen. A brilliantly executed sequence, it leaves the two being equally placed as one waits to see who makes the first move. The second time they get into a 1-0-1 battle in the film's climax and its execution is sure to send shivers down the spine.
From the plot point of view, the film is very simple. In fact Amitabh Bachchan, who plays an advocate in the film, summarizes it all by asking a question - "If you see a man with a gun near your house, whom would you prefer - a cop or a gangster?"
This pretty much justifies the horror acts that you see in the penultimate 30 minutes of the film when each of the gangsters [played by Vivek Oberoi, Tusshar Kapoor, Rohit Roy, Aditya Lakhia, Shabbir Ahluwalia] meets with a brutal end, either as a result of cross fire or a clear cut encounter. The men responsible for that? ATC team of Sanjay Dutt, Suneil Shetty, Arbaaz Khan and many more.
The film deserves a special mention for it's narration as it the three cops narrate the incidents that lead to the shootout, starting from the introduction of Abhishek Bachchan, who plays a cop. As someone who was an officer with Sanjay Dutt, he is lovable in his 15 minutes part as he takes on migrant terrorists from Punjab.
Later the film gets into the personal and professional lives of the group of gangsters and their rise and fall. The D-company angle is handled deftly as well without going overboard even as the sound of bullets resonate throughout the two hour duration of the film.
Any lighter moments in the film? Watch out for the three sequences where Suneil Shetty and Arbaaz Khan get into a conversation with heavy duty English, Urdu and Hindi respectively. Restrained, yet utterly hilarious! Rakhi Sawant has a sole scene in the end where she blends her on-screen and off-screen image perfectly.
What doesn't work in the movie at all are it's songs. The fact is that a film belonging to this genre just didn't warrant any songs. Period. It is not the tune, picturisation or actors that could make or break the song's placement, it is the very concept of keeping songs that go wrong. Belonging to fast forward variety, they are best to be skipped.
Tusshar Kapoor just doesn't suit the part. The way he acts as a gangster is too forced as it doesn't come naturally to him. Adit