By MovieTalkies.com, 21 March 2008
Abbas-Mustan live up to their reputation and Race turns out to be a typical film of theirs replete with intriguing twists and turns as the web of deceit seems to encompass all. Except perhaps for its length, the film turns out to be quite enjoyable. It is made all the more so by the presence of Saif Ali Khan, who stands tall over the rest of the film's cast.
The film's story revolves around two brothers, Ranvir (Saif) and Rajeev (Akshay Khanna). The elder brother, Ranvir manages the stud farm and is in the racing business while the younger brother ostensibly stays drunk most of the time. There are a couple of women around as well, Sonia (Bipasha Basu), who is Ranvir's girlfriend and Sophia (Katrina Kaif), who is his secretary. Like in most of their previous films, the world inhabited by Abbas-Mustan's characters in Race, is a grey one. Nothing is as it seems and nobody is exactly as they seem. Everybody seems to have a motive and are operating from their world of greed, except perhaps our main protagonist, Ranvir, who is made of a different mettle altogether. Cool as a cucumber, he is known to be a daredevil who loves living on the edge. He is known to never give his enemies a second chance. But there is another side to Ranvir as well, he dotes on his brother, it seems to be mutual; and trusts his secretary immensely. But things seem to go wrong in this paradiscal world where brother loves brother after Ranvir narrowly survives a road accident.
Like with any good suspense thriller, Race too has a very normal first half, where all the characters are laid out and we see them as the director wants us to see them. It is not a complete picture, but one which helps in taking the plot further. The can of worms is opened when Rajiv reveals his darker side and blackmails Sonia into marrying him and helping him eliminate his brother. The big prize here is not the stud farm but an insurance policy which will make Rajiv richer by 50 million dollars. Everything seems to be working according to plan and it seems that Ranvir has been trapped into this web of deceit by Sonia, his ex-lover, and his kid brother. But matters again take a turn and it seems that Ranvir is still one up on his brother. This race of one-upmanship between the brothers continues till the end of the film, with there remaining just one winner.
Saif Ali Khan, as we said earlier, is the lifeblood of the film. This is not a statement on the rest of the cast but the manner in which Saif has emerged in recent years as a consummate actor. Besides honing his acting skills, Saif seems to have acquired a charisma which marks him out right from the beginning. Of course, there is also the matter of something called the script and the box office. Granted, the script and the film are geared to project him in a certain way, but the Chhote Nawab plays it really cool. His rakish looks and a certain brooding intensity that he adopts for this character, along with his new-found bearded look, seem to work to his advantage. The rest he essays with ease. Akshay Khanna as the younger brother, is good as always. His laidback acting style works well for his character of an alcoholic in the film. The two females in their life, Bipasha Basu and Katrina Kaif fit their roles. Bipasha looks ravishing and does her job well. Katrina, has little to do in the film, besides looking good, meek and understanding, which she does well. Making an appearance in the second half of the film are RD (Anil Kapoor) and his assistant Minnie (Sameera Reddy).
One is aware that Anil is much in demand after the success of Welcome. But he fails to replicate his act in this film. The whole bit about the fruit-eating detective seems to work for a while, but as the film has entered a crucial stage by this time, one's patience tends to wear thin with his nonsensical act with Sameera Reddy, who definitely does not look like a dumb belle and fails to even act like one.
The film has been shot well with some great action scenes, like the car race towards the end. Another scene that comes to mind is the Saif's road accident. The film has been shot with all the gloss and glamour in place. For once, the characters are dressed well, quite in keeping with their characters in the film. The music too provides good filler, except for the O Jaane Ja number which stands out. The rest of the music by Pritam is more or less mediocre. The extra song featuring Saif and Katrina, which has been added at the last minute by the director does really nothing for the film, besides slowing down the proceedings. As for the script and the screenplay, it works in most places, or let's say, it manages to take one along.
Race just seems to get a little repetitive and tiring in certain places and one feels that it could have done with a little tightening. But all in all, the film seems to work.