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03 March 2024

Bollywood review: 'Roy' is as much Ranbir Kapoor's as it is Arjun Rampal's

Director Vikramjit Singh will join Arjun Rampal and Jacqueline Fernandez for the Dubai premiere of 'Roy'. (Supplied)

By Sneha May Francis

Movies are meant to be a reflection of our reality, and that’s what debutant director Vikramjit Singh explores through his staggeringly gorgeous canvas in ‘Roy’. A movie that starts off promising to be a heist film, but ends up slipping into an emotional drama about self-discovery.

It’s a classic case of how we rarely (almost never) practice what we preach. Singh’s stunning cast voice filmmaking tips that the director blatantly ignores.

"A story must end when it needs to. There’s no point stretching it," says his dazzling moviemaker Ayesha Amir, but Singh’s own ‘Roy’ runs into an exhausting 156 minutes of screen time.

At another point, his droopy-eyed filmmaker Kabir announces, “I don’t want to waste your time.”

Whether this was as much about Singh’s journey as it is of Kabir’s, one can never tell, but a line about “how did I make this film?” possibly exposes a connect.

‘Roy’ is textured and tinted marvelously by cinematographer Himman Dhamija, but Singh’s story is unable to lend it enough substance. Had Dipika Kalra exercised ruthlessness on the editing desk, it would’ve tipped the odds in its favour.

Concealed under puffs of smoke and a fedora hat, Kabir’s journey comes alive as he hits the keys of his antique typewriter and creates a sinful world of deceit and chase.

His Roy is designed on a celebrated thief, one who caught the director’s fancy when he was a young boy.

The story, now in its third stage, culminates in Malaysia, where he chances upon a charming inspiration.

Singh structures his narrative around Kabir’s reality and Roy’s infamous life. Their stories are intrinsically weaved, and swapped cleverly, to establish contradictions and revelations.

“We humans always want to steal someone else’s life and live it as our own,” hints the suave, leather-jacketed Roy. Singh further details how the men live magnificently as poster boys, even when they choose a life of secrecy.

The exercise appears tried and tested, and one that holds an uncanny resemblance to Hollywood veterans. Yet, Singh holds his own.

However, the transition isn’t clear, and often complicating. Even the conflicts that emerge appear inconsequential.

He uses a watch and cigar to link both the lives, but their actual relevance isn’t explained adequately.

Arjun Rampal conveniently hides his broody face under a hat, and an unkempt beard. When he’s not wasting much of his screen time sipping iced drinks, he’s clouding the frame with his puffs. The camera feeds off Arjun’s striking looks, but unfortunately Singh doesn’t flesh out his complexities and vulnerabilities convincingly.

Between all this, he finds time to romance, with the entertainment reporters pitching his current flame to number 23. Yet, we don’t sense any real chemistry between him or his squeeze.

Jacqueline Fernandez plays two parts, one of a discerning filmmaker, and other of a pretty actress Tia. Apart from the varying wardrobe and hairdo, there’s not much distinction in their portrayals, and that’s probably planned to unfold a bigger reality, but it never translates cleverly.

Ranbir Kapoor lends mystery to Roy, and never lets off his guard. It’s unfortunate though that his character isn’t permitted to thrive.

‘Roy’ is a marvelously shot movie, no doubt, and holds immense promise, but never quite sums up into anything of substance.

We only wish it was more about the heist, and less about the heart.

Also see: Movie Listings in UAE