“Line Of Descent” (Zee5 feature film); Cast: Brendan Fraser, Abhay Deol, Ronit Roy, Neeraj Kabi, Ali Haji, Prem Chopra; Direction: Rohit Karn Batra; Rating: ** (two stars)
By Subhash K. Jha
Another soggy mafia saga set in and around a Delhi business family, and one that compares very poorly with Kanu Behl’s “Titli” and Shanker Raman’s “Gurgaon”, “Line Of Descent” leaves a puzzling, bitter 0aftertaste.
It’s not such an awful film. It’s just so unnecessary it resembles a fifth or sixth generation copy of “The Godfather” with Prem Chopra—giggle—playing Brando while Ronit Roy, Neeraj Kabi and Ali Haji play the three sons quite well. Abhay Deol, the well-meaning though ill-informed cop who busts the Sinha family’s a**. And Hollywood has-been Brendan Fraser (the big daddy from original “The Mummy” franchise) makes an entry midway as an arms dealer of indeterminate race and an even more uncertain function in a plot that wants to be savage, funny, poignant and relevant, and trips over its own overweening ambitions.
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I love it when an independent film (yes I’m still making them) of mine gets the promise of a good release! Not only is my film “Line Of Descent” opening the @nycsaff, but it will also get a US theatrical release by Gravitas Ventures on the 13th of December. This film is too racy and too real for an Indian theatrical unfortunately, but it will premier exclusively on Zee5 in India, the date is yet to be decided. It is Directed by Rohit Karn Batra and produced by @guylouthan. Besides the fact that it has some very great actors like Brendan Fraser, Ronit Roy and Neeraj Kabi, I was most excited to see Mr. Prem Chopra on screen after such a long time. My grandmother used to say of Mr. Chopra, “he’s a villain in reel life but such a gentleman in real life”. And today I am in the same film as him. This one’s for my granny!!! @zee5premium.
Throughout the running time of less than two hours, we search for a sense of purpose in the plot. In vain. In the absence of a moral compass, the characters run all over the place trying to shock us with their vicious internecine domestic politics. Somewhere in the merger of mayhem and politics, a Caucasian female character fires a blazing gun at one of the key characters. She also shows her breasts in a completely unnecessary shower sequence. The director’s token nudge to censorial freedom on the digital platform.
This too doesn’t shock us out of empathy that grows out of the film’s burning desire to consume the audiences’ interests in a blaze of bloodshed and retribution. It’s like a Shakespearean tragedy gone the Guddu Dhanoa way. The gravitas required to give the characters a heft and immediacy are completely lacking.
Not that the actors don’t try. There are two powerful performances by Ronit Roy and Neeraj Kabi as brothers locked in a moral conflict to the bloodied end. These are actors constantly in search of roles to sink their teeth into. Here all they can do is sink into the swiveling silliness of a plot that ambles from vitriolic to risible when Adam Sandler pops in. Maybe he got paid well. Maybe he wanted to see Delhi, who knows? Sandler strikes a pathetically unfinished caricatured pose , like a drunken man holding a glass out for a refill at a crowded pub .
Abhay Deol as a cop trying to snuff out the sins of of the Sinha syndicate in Delhi has an even more unfinished role. His character has a back story about being desirous of adopting a child. But the film has much bigger problems to worry about.
Finding a centre to this hotheaded tale of crime and punishment is as impossible as looking for normal clothes in Ranveer Singh’s wardrobe . I am still wondering why this film was made.