Leading man Kunal Kemmu is admirable but it is the hilarious dark characters that make Rajesh Krishnan’s maiden feature a joy to watch
Rating: 3.5 / 5
By Mayur Lookhar
The miserable lives that we live, all we want is one big break. Nah! F**k. that. All that the poor and the ‘les miserables’ want is to make a quick buck. Screenwriter Kapil Sawant and director Rajesh Krishnan’s Lootcase  hinges on a stroke of destiny and the comedy of errors that comes with it.
Nandan Kumar [Kunal Kemmu], a struggling lower middle-class man from Mumbai stumbles upon a bag full of Rs2000 notes [Rs10 crore overall) but it’s never easy to digest such dirty money. This red bag though hasn’t fallen from any sky. The black money is traced to a corrupt politician Patil [Gajraj Rao] with arch rival Bala [Vijay Raaz] plotting to steal it from under his nose. Unfortunately for the duo, the red bag lands into the needy hands of Kumar.
Former advertising professional Rajesh Krishnan directs his maiden feature, Lootcase. Krishnan has earlier helmed the popular TV-mini serious TVF Tripling . Krishnan brings a bagful of humour in his suit sorry Lootcase.
Although the ‘lady luck smiling on a cash-strapped commoner’ is no novel tale, but it is the subtle humour, the well-etched characters and the impressive cast that makes a strong case for Lootcase  to be the stress buster in this boring lockdown period.
Krishnan and his co-writer Kapil Sawant dig deep, both in their natural habitat and the wild, to pen a fun-filled screenplay. It’s not often in a review that one mentions of the other cast before the lead pair – Nandan and Lata [Rasika Dugal).
Together Krishnan and Sawant create some rib-tickling characters. Topping our list here is Inspector Kolte [Ranvir Shorey] who only comes into the picture a good 30 odd minutes into the film. But Shorey steals the march over others. No, Kolte is no funny cop. He’s corrupt, a no-nonsense guy who does the dirty job for the scheming politician Patil. A man of few words, but Kolte’s famous for getting the job done. The hunt for the suitcase though puts him through tricky situations. It sees him bumping into goofy characters that get onto his nerves. Shorey is flawless in bringing out the frustration of Kolte. For a Punjabi, he aces the Marathi-accented Hindi of Kolte nicely. There’s no drop in the intensity throughout the film. Shorey pulls it off with dead pan expressions. Perhaps, this is one of Shorey’s finest acts. Take a bow.
Then we have Gajraj Rao as the smiling but devious chameleon-like politician Patil. Unlike Shorey, Rao doesn’t quite have the Marathi tone, but it’s his evil sense of humor that floors you. Patil is not one to show his emotions easily. He doesn’t throw a fit when his men err, but he gently pulls a past sin to them. And then in the next sentence, the smiling Patil has the gumption to say “Did you really think I was going to do that?” His conversation with the erring men often end with, “Sab kehte hain main zyada bolta hoon, mujhe itna bolna nahi chahiye” (Everyone says that I talk a lot. I shouldn’t be talking too much). Rao plays the smiling, scheming politician to the T. The only criticism is the lack of the Marathi-tone. Maybe, Krishnan would have been better to have Rao play a Pandey than a Patil.
Vijay Raaz is going through a purple patch in his career with one stellar act after another. But he’s never played anyone like Bala before. Here’s a dangerous man who is a keen viewer of the infotainment channel, National Geographic Channel. At first, one might think this is a marketing integration ploy, however, Bala wants his men to hunt like the apex predators on Nat Geo.
“Nature se kuch seekho, it’s a jungle out there aur jungle main alert rehna padta hain,” Bala tells his men. His most conversations begin with a metaphorical comparison between the creatures in the wild and the creatures (enemies) among men. Like Kolte, he, too pulls off the humour with dead pan expressions. It’s only fair to say that Ranvir Shorey, Gajraj Rao, Vijay Raaz are the ‘black’ wheels that drive this suit..Lootcase
Not a single character from the supporting cast has an academic presence. Perhaps, the best humour emanates from conversations/situations involving the supporting cast. There’s Bala’s two most trusted henchmen Graduate [Aakash Dabade], Ranjan [Nilesh Divekar]. Then we have Omar [Sumit Nijhawan] Patil’s impulsive shooter and Vasant Goenka [Vijay Nikam], Nandan’s exploitative Saavdhan Times boss. Each of these characters are hilarious and played impressively by the respective actors.
The one that left us ROFL [Rolling on the floor loudly] is the nosy auto driver [played by Sachin Naik]. He’s summonsed by Kolte to recall the face of the man who flicked the red bag. Kolte tells his constable, “We’ll need to make the sketch quickly.” The innocent auto driver, who is standing nearby, worryingly says, “Sorry sir, but I’m very poor at drawing”. He finally helps the police come up with a sketch, but that earns him a tight slap as the sketch is of Shah Rukh Khan. In another scene, Kolte warns him not to leave the city, and the man replies, “Don’t worry sir, we auto drivers can only drive between Bandra to Borivali.” (Mumbaikars will get the humour easily). These replies irk Kolte but leaves you in splits. The auto driver is not alone in bugging Kolte. The cop loses his cool at the nauseating bankers from Azad Nagar. Sawant and Krishnan deserve full credit for creating such adoring characters.
And so it leaves us with the principal pair – Nandan and Lata. Are Kunal Kemmu and Rasika Dugal disappointing? Are they the weak link here? No, not at all. However, it’s just that the other characters are more endearing and funny. Kemmu has a good comic timing but you feel the writers needed to add more to his character. Kemmu and Dugal make for an odd [reel] pair. It’s not the lack of chemistry or effort, but it’s the average writing in the family scenes that hurts Lootcase. Kemmu though is brilliant in solo scenes where he often talks to himself, rather his bag who he has named Anand Petikar.
“Most poor crave for money, but it’s the sanskaar [moral values] that pulls back a poor man from committing a crime.” Nandan tells his colleague. But when destiny smiles on him twice, he tells the lord, “It’s fine with me, but I have a wife who values morality”. Nandan though realizes that it is a pain to hide and spend such dirty money. Kemmu largely plays second fiddle to Raaz, Rao and Shorey, but he comes into his own at the business end.
The playback music is terrible and Krishnan could have easily done away with the two odd songs. However, that would have robbed Rasika Dugal of a rare song and dance pleasure. Krishnan himself has a tiny role of a poor Indian classical music singer.
The film has its few drag moments, but the final hour is a laughter riot.
It’s a shame that Fox Star Studios pulled the plug from the scheduled theatrical release last year for this was very much a big screen entertainer. Nevertheless, Lootcase  is the ideal comedy to break free from the boring lockdown life. Go grab this Lootcase.
Lootcase is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.