Baazaar has all the ingredients of a successful film – money, dreams, sex, betrayal, a Machiavellian man driving the story and a brilliant film from Hollywood, Wall Street to be inspired by. Ironically the film gets weighed down by Wall Street, because majority of the target audience would have seen the iconic 1987 film and this is just a faithful copy, as much as possibly could be for the Indian audience. The writers have not done their homework; even the trading floor depicted in the film looks more like from the eighties with traders shouting in their phones. Hello, internet has long since changed the game, trading floors are silent places and trading is all electronic. That just tells me the writers never bothered to visit a real trading floor
Gordon Gekko here is Shakun Kothari (Saif Ali Khan), the Greed is Good sultan of capital markets who wants to be a force that runs the country and equates himself to the handful of conglomerates in India. Shakun creates nothing, provides no service, but makes money on illegally obtained information. For him, “Dhando” trumps relationships and friendships. Rizwan Ahmed (Rohan Mehra), a lad from Allahabad with dreams in his eyes but who has no real idea how money circulates among a handful few and people get trampled in order to make more of it. He jumps in earnestly with stars in his eyes but lacks the steeliness of the soul to follow in his mentor’s shoes. Unlike Shakun, Rizwan has conscience, especially when those he loves are hurt in the stock market rollercoaster.
First time director Gauravv Chawla has painstakingly copied the trading floor ambience from Wall Street, not necessarily a true representation of the 2018 trading floor. First half is about Rohan’s climb from a nobody in Mumbai to becoming a successful broker. The journey focusses on the successes making it look easy and rather fortuitous. As Rizwan climbs the ladder to success, Shakun is shown to be dealing exclusively in illegal deals. Stocks are bought and sold only on non-public information, there is no focus on actual industry research, company research or technical analysis. Gauravv creates a world where morality takes a back seat and love plays second fiddle to professional benefits. However, everybody else, other than Shakun, is rather dim witted. Shakun has no competition in manipulation. The story rarely veers off the original Wall Street. You have seen it all before, so nothing comes up as a surprise. Rizwan’s romantic interest Priya Rai’s (Radhika Apte) relationship with Shakun is expected. Shakun’s wife Mandira (Chitrangada Singh) turning against him is not convincing.
Saif Ali Khan is the capable driver of this film. His performance is what will keep the viewer interested in the story. Rohan Mehra makes a confident debut. Though he has some ways to go before he can match Saif’s finesse, he has the physicality and the voice that will make him suitable for many roles. Radhika Apte is well cast but both she and Chitrangada Singh have precious little to do, particularly the latter.
The film is entertaining, but the problem is it is just a copy with nothing added to the original storyline. You have seen it all before. There is no anticipation, no surprise. Just Shakun, trying desperately to shake it up.