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Lootcase - crores of cash, chicken chilli and crocodilus niloticus

A don, or bhai, obsessed with the National Geographic channel. A couple that flirts using sexual innuendo disguised as names of Indo-Chinese dishes. A minister that uses passive-aggressive tactics to manipulate people. And a suitcase missing a wheel but full of pink Gandhi notes. That's a smidgen of the menagerie of weirdos populating Lootcase, that premiered on Hotstar last week.

Lootcase begins with ordinary guy Nandan Kumar (Kunal Khemu now called Kunal Kemmu in the credits) stumbling upon a suitcase full of cash, the proverbial stroke of luck that everyone dreams about. The story of why it came to be where it was, its serendipitous discovery by the hapless hero, and the madness and mayhem that ensues, culminating in a climax where Priyadarshan meets Quentin Tarantino, is what takes up the running time of 2 hr 11 min of Lootcase. Nandan is living the stereotypical lower middle class life in a Mumbai chawl, with his sanskari but sexy wife Lata (Rasika Dugal) and smart alec son Aayush (Aryan Prajapati). The constant specter of money, or the lack thereof, hangs over the conversational space in the home. Eating Chinese food on the street and then using it as a metaphor for stolen intimacy in a cramped tenement is the epitome of celebration. Into this scenario, populated by the wife's demands for a Shimla vacation (she says the closest she has been to Shimla is eating Shimla mirchi) and the son's for visits to a water park and other sundry knickknacks, drops in the supposed manna from heaven, a suitcase filled with 10 crores of cash. The suitcase belongs to MLA Patil (Gajraj Rao), who is embroiled in shady dealings with various bhais, Bala (Vijay Raaz), Omar (Sumit Nijhawan) and Jameel, He is trying to get it to a disembodied ministerial voice on the phone called Tripathi. The various underlings, a pair of calm assassins, and a corrupt cop Kolte (Ranvir Shorey) make up the rest of the madcap ensemble.

The acting by everyone is consistently good as expected from a cast made up of veterans like Raaz (Monsoon Wedding (2001), Dhamaal (2007) and Gulabo Sitabo (2020), reviewed here), Rao (Badhaai Ho (2018) reviewed here and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (2019), reviewed here as well) and Shorey (Khosla ka Ghosla (2006) and Angrezi Medium (2020), reviewed here). Kunal Kemmu who came in to the last 2 movies of the Rohit Shetty Golmaal franchise, Golmaal 3 (2010) and Golmaal Again (2017), and was in one of the funniest (and probably only) Indian zombie comedies Go Goa Gone (2013) does a good job of portraying the Everyman frustration and euphoria. Rasika Dugal who was seen in the superb Netflix original series Delhi Crime (2019) alongside Shefali Shah playing a dramatic role there, does a nice job of the harried wife trying to make ends meet while being the moral center of the household. The dialogues and one liners, some of which are spontaneously delivered laugh out loud funny, are in sync with the comic ethos. When Nandan is asked for his gang affiliation as "Kiska aadmi hai tu" he responds in a panic "Main Lata ka aadmi hoon'' and when a rickshaw driver is asked to help out the cops in drawing a sketch of the suspect he says "magar saab meri drawing achchi nahi hai". The one song in the movie utilizes my favorite Marathi word for puns "fakta" as opposite sides of a "pavitra party", the women using it in its literal sense to mean only, the men using it as a pun of the most common English cuss word in a phrase coupled with the word "the".

All in all, Lootcase is a timepass comedy akin to a bowl of Chinese Chicken Hakka Noodles and Gobi Manchurian - tasty in the moment, but you feel hungry for something more substantive after a couple of hours.

August 9, 2020

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