Jackpot

Goa forms the backdrop for this who-gets-the-moolah caper. Francis (Sachin Joshi) packs in the muscle and has a can of beer always close at hand. He is also street-smart enough to impress Maya (Sunny Leone), the oomphy voice of reason in the movie. Boss Man (Naseeruddin Shah ) is a veteran raver whose clothes are as colourful as his principles and punchlines. Slow in speech but quick to draw a six-shooter, he owns the jackpot casino.

Jackpot not only lacks a cohesive plot, it also makes for a painful and confusing narrative, enough to bore the viewer. he tightly packed episodes of the spiraling plot leave very little room for porous moments. There is no breathing space in the narration. Gustad piles up ‘atmosphere’ so aggressively, you fear the narration may collapse
Kaizad Gustad, who wowed moviegoers with BOMBAY BOYS, but got it all wrong with BOOM, returns to tell a story after a hiatus. Is his new endeavour, JACKPOT, sharp and intelligent like his first film?

JACKPOT is a thriller with comic one-liners and crazy characters, set entirely in Goa against the backdrop of casino boats. The film starts off with a title track that seems highly inspired from the opening credits of a Bond film… also reminiscent of the one in SHAAN. Soon thereafter, we are introduced to the characters, with multiple subplots adding to the mystery… and confusion. Kaizad doesn’t spill the beans at the outset and the non-linear depiction of happenings that constantly switch back and forth leave you confused, making you wonder, what’s Kaizad up to? Actually, with multiple cons being played simultaneously, the viewer is at a loss when trying to figure out what the original con was.
Meet the characters. Naseer has a splendid head of hair, with long white dreadlocks flowing over brightly-patterned cotton shirts. He is called Boss, and he owns a floating casino. When he’s not drawing beads on guys who cheat at his tables, he is talking dirty. His thing is to make money any which way he can, and the latest jackpot is worth Rs 5 crore.
Boss, Francis and Maya hatch a plan to steal crores of cash. And while the deed itself is executed decently enough, the subsequent sub-plots and implications of intrigue amongst the schemers is laid on with the predictability and subtlety of a bull in a china shop.

Completely in character, Boss looks and sounds like a parody of a villain. While it’s clearly understood that he is the owner of a floating casino, his lines flog every possible gambling pun to death. After a point, you can almost predict what the next one-liner will be. Francis and his other muscle-bound cronies often get into squabbles whenever some suspicion of duplicity arises amongst them.

Or is it more? In this confused tale, spearheaded by con artists Francis his long-limbed lover Maya and a couple of cronies, the numbers keep changing. Sometimes it is five. Sometimes it is double and three times that. What doesn’t change is the way the director leaches all the it’s-so-bad-it’s-great from his story, and replaces it with dullness.
Kaizad also integrates the songs smartly in the narrative and the romantic track filmed on Sachiin and Sunny, ‘Kabhi Jo Baadal Barse’, stays in your memory. Having said that, the romantic scenes between the lead pair aren’t too convincing. Also, the pacing in the first half is quite erratic.

We don’t really need plot from a film like this. Heck, there’s Goa in the background, whose beaches and the people-in-their-itsi-bitsies can be fore-grounded anytime. We don’t get any of that. Leone is the sole eye-candy, and she’s turned out in clothes. Here a man’s shirt, there a white shift over purple flimsies. What men. She does get to say “kutte”, but that’s small change.
We can forgive Sachiin Joshi because he does what he knows, though he’s also kitted out in Hawaaiin shirts and hawaii chappals. Comparatively he manages to pull off a more convincing job as an actor this time . It is Naseerudhin Shah being ill-used he should have chewed up the scenery in this one. And he would have too, if he had better actors, and a story maybe, to play off against. Makrand Deshpande does a stellar job of playing the laidback cop, getting the local dialect right. Bharath, who has a humber of South Indian films to his credit, makes his Hindi debut with JACKPOT.
However, Kaizad links the uneven subplots wonderfully in the second half. With a run time of approx 1.40 hours, the post-interval portions move feverishly and the unanswered questions get an answer. The writing is smart, the pacing is just right, the twists and turns in the narrative are sharp and the culmination catches you completely unaware. Kaizad serves an intelligent thriller, while the DoP does justice to his vision, capturing the lush green spots, grey skies and the downpour with precision. The background score too gives the film an edge.

On the whole, JACKPOT proves to be an interesting watch with a sharp and clever second half.