420 IPC makes an engaging watch

STORY: Bansi Keswani (Vinay Pathak) is a chartered accountant whose clientele also includes a top bureaucrat and a veteran builder. While the going is tough for him and his family, comprising his wife Pooja (Gul Panag) and son Amit (Shush Kalra), things take an ugly turn when he’s arrested for theft, forgery and bank fraud. To fight his case, he hires lawyer Birbal Chaudhary (Rohan Mehra), who discovers that there is more to it than meets the eye.

REVIEW: The film opens at the MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Road Development Authority) office where Bansi is visiting his client, Deputy Director, Sandesh Bhonsale (Mahesh Pillai) to discuss ITR filing for him and his family. Soon after he returns home, Pooja apprises him of the bank’s eviction notice for failing to pay the last few EMIs of the home loan. Even as they’re trying to figure out a way out of this crisis, CBI officers come knocking on his door. After a thorough search of his house, they ask him to accompany them to their office. That’s where Bansi learns about Bhonsale’s arrest for siphoning off Rs 1200 crore in the Airoli Flyover Scam.

He’s let off since they don’t find anything incriminating him. Relieved, Bansi goes about his work as usual. But within days, one afternoon, the Police arrest him from his office for stealing cheques from his builder client, Sinha (Arif Zakaria), and also charge him of forgery and bank fraud. Even though circumstantial evidence stacks against him, Bansi maintains he’s innocent and it’s up to his lawyer Birbal to bail him out despite strong opposition from Public Prosecutor Sewak Jamshedji (Ranvir Shorey).

Director Manish Gupta (also credited with story, screenplay and dialogues), who has previously directed ‘Rahasya’ and written ‘Section 375’, doesn’t waste time or footage in getting straight to the story from the first frame itself. For this courtroom drama, he has come up with an interesting story of forgery, bank fraud and economic offence, very rarely attempted in Hindi cinema. He has handled the narrative cleverly, with a couple of interesting twists, till black, white and grey are clearly separated in the end.

Manish’s research on such cases, also delving into the forensics and handwriting analysis, seems extensive and authentic, ensuring you are engrossed in the proceedings inside and outside the court as well. The screenplay is fairly taut and keeps you intrigued till the end.

The earnest Vinay Pathak keeps his Bansi restrained and aptly portrays the trauma his chartered accountant character goes through. He once again proves that he’s an actor who can do wonders if given an unconventional role. Ditto Ranvir Shorey, who effectively plays the Parsi public prosecutor Savak Jamshedji, with subtlety and without indulging in any stereotype mannerisms or characteristic traits associated with the community.

Gul Panag does a good job of essaying Bansi’s strong supporting wife, Pooja. Rohan Mehra is earnest as Balbir Chaudhary, a young lawyer who would go to any lengths to keep his client out of jail. Arif Zaharia, Manali (as Balbir’s female cop friend Vidhi Chitalia) and the other supporting cast play their parts as expected.

Cinematography by Arvind Kannabiran and Raaj Chakravarti compliments Bhavani Patel’s art direction, while background score by Ranjit Barot and Som Dasgupta adds to the drama.

At the end of it, ‘420 IPC’ is a good watch that doesn’t lag or bore you with any unnecessary or unwanted elements like a song or a comedy track forced into the narrative.

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