Director: Rajesh Krishnan
Cast: Kunal Kemmu, Rasika Dugal, Vijay Raaz, Ranvir Shorey, Gajraj Rao
“Lootcase”, directed by Rajesh Krishnan, is constructed around a scenario that most of us have only fantasized about – the hope of someday chancing upon unexpected wealth. The film plays out longer than it should, but it’s mostly clever, and it benefits from a crackling cast that comes together to elevate even the saggy bits.
Nandan Kumar (Kunal Kemmu) is a blue-collar worker in a printing press, struggling to give his family a better life. His wife Lata (Rasika Duggal) suggests that he should supplement his income by starting a small business from home. Among other complaints, she reminds him that he’s been promising to take them to Shimla for years. “Maine toh sweater bhi bunke rakha hai; aise hi pada hai,” she says. Their young son understands that money is tight, but a kid wants what a kid wants.
While returning home after completing a night shift one day, Nandan stumbles onto an abandoned suitcase stuffed with cash. It doesn’t appear to belong to anyone, but it could be the solution to every problem he’s ever had; a means to uplift his family from a life of pinching pennies that they seem destined for. So away he goes, bag in tow, oblivious that a corrupt politician, some ruthless gangsters, and a trigger-happy cop are in hot pursuit of it.
Much of the humour in “Lootcase” comes from two factors – the first being Nandan’s inability to find a suitable place to hide the bag. We’re talking about a lower middle-class fellow who lives cheek to jowl with neighbours in a ratty chawl. Where do you hide ten crore rupees? The second source of amusement is his inability to spend much of the cash. “Na chaar rupaay ka churan khareed sakta hoon, na chaar crore ka flat,” he laments, realizing the impracticality of hoarding two thousand rupee notes. There is also the irony that his wife is constantly complaining that they don’t have enough money, yet he knows she’d never be okay with keeping what doesn’t belong to them.
The other characters too are quirky; the screenplay coasts along nicely when Gajraj Rao shows up on the screen as a sweet-talking MLA who gets people to carry out his crooked bidding by employing a passive-aggressive approach. Vijay Raaz is a hoot as a National Geographic-obsessed don who employs wildlife terminology while issuing orders to his henchmen. There’s also Ranvir Shorey in good form, as a hot-headed police officer who’s becoming increasingly desperate – and violent – as the hunt for the suitcase gets increasingly intense. A word also for the fine actors in smaller roles who add to the hilarity – like Nandan’s polite neighbour, Vijay Raaz’s goondas, and Ranvir Shorey’s informer.
At the centre of this comedy of errors are Nandan and Lata. Kunal Kemmu does the aam aadmi routine with real flair, and his scenes with the excellent Rasika Duggal are some of the best in the film. Their Chinese food analogies for sex deliver some of the biggest laughs.
But “Lootcase” unravels in its final act, losing steam well before the finish line. At 2 hours and 13 minutes, it’s way too long; there’s just not enough plot to justify that running time. The climax is your standard Priyadarshan-style chaos of multiple characters and complete madness, although there is more bloodshed here that one tends to see in comedies. Also, it’s quite predictable how things will inevitably end, so there’s no real point in stretching the screenplay.
The film’s best bits are its little throwaway moments and there are plenty of those. “Lootcase” is not perfect or extraordinary in any way. But it will bring a smile to your face. And in these times I think it’s fair to say we’re grateful for what we can get.