In the first few minutes of Drive, Jacqueline Fernandez playing Tara, gets out of a car. You’ve seen this shot countless times before. It’s the standard-issue star entry. You first see the high heels and shapely calf, and then the rest of her. For the next few seconds, she just stands there, resting against the car, with the wind blowing her hair like a shampoo model. The film is actually pausing to let you take in how sexy she is. But Tarun Mansukhani who’s written and directed Drive, thinks your IQ is perhaps lower than that of his film, because right after, a character walks up to Tara and says: yeh kehna mushkil hai ki tum zyada sexy ho ya tumhari driving.
Subtlety is not Drive’s forte. Neither is clarity, characterization, coherence or anything else that any reasonable person requires in their entertainment. There isn’t much entertainment either. As I watched, I wondered: how did this film get made? Perhaps Tarun and producer Karan Johar conceived it as Fast and Furious meets Ocean’s Eleven. Did Jacqueline, who is required here to pose and pout, think this might make for a solid popcorn movie? She also gets to do a song that has the lyrics, “karma badi kamini hai” – helpfully subtitled on Netflix as “Karma is a bitch.” And what was Sushant Singh Rajput thinking? The usually reliable actor is doing odd things with his lips and grinning a lot. I think this is supposed to play as cool, but his smugness just comes off as silly. There’s also Boman Irani and Pankaj Tripathi. All I can say is, I hope they got paid well. Until now, my bar for bad heist movies was Anubhav Sinha‘s Cash. I had forced my mother to see it, and she kept asking, “Yeh kaun kiski chori kar raha hai?” But Drive sets a new standard for absurdity. The plot centers on some 890 crores of cash and gold, stored in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The loot belongs to a corrupt government official. An infamous thief, only known as King, wants to steal it. This sounds like fun, right? Wrong. We get split screens, a countdown, lots of slow-motion strutting and posturing and some terrible CGI. We also get some choice dialogue. In one scene, a character says, “Hamein rapid response team ki zaroorat hai and really fast.” In another, someone instructs: ab chori ka sabse important part, bahar nikalne ka rasta. It’s a cat-and-mouse game, played out like a cartoon. The bummer is that it doesn’t even extend to that delirious sort of cheesiness which makes it so bad that it’s good. Or perhaps the platform doesn’t let it achieve those heights. When you see a bad film in the theater, you stay committed – at least I never walk out of films. You’re trapped. So when a film is sufficiently bad, you start to enjoy the awfulness. It becomes funny. But with Netflix, you can simply switch it off. So, the opportunity for reveling in the glorious foolishness that Hindi cinema throws up just doesn’t arise. The moral of the story is that Netflix needs to have better quality control. And Tarun, who gave us lots to enjoy in his last film Dostana, should perhaps go back to the drawing board.