Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai Review: Rages against nothing
This remake of the Saeed Mirza classic is blind to the world and itself
The heroine is called ‘Stella’. It’s, of course, a nod to Shabana Azmi’s character in the 1980 original, but also brings to mind the smooth Belgian pilsner. No, wait, scratch that. No beverage of any sophistication could have possibly inspired this film. Directed by Soumitra Ranade, this remake of the Saeed Mirza classic seems conceived in the shadiest Mumbai bar, over drinks that can spill your guts out. The dialogues are burpy, the narrative maudlin and the colour grade washed out, as though the frames were dipped in beer and allowed to soak overnight.
Director: Soumitra Ranade
Cast: Manav Kaul, Nandita Das, Saurabh Shukla, and Kishore Kadam
Given the adulation, I was expecting a Naseeruddin Shah cameo. There is none (Perhaps he was caught up with the Vivek Agnihotri movie). In fact, apart from borrowing the scalding title, Soumitra’s film does not coast on the parallel cinema masterpiece. Some broad themes run through — societal inequity, class consciousness, anger — but this nutsy movie and its hero have their own problems.
Manav Kaul plays the new Albert Pinto. More than angry or irritable, he looks perpetually psyched up, like a man on drugs waiting on someone to finish a joke. Most of these japes come from Saurabh Shukla, as a leery gunman driving Albert from Mumbai to Goa. Saurabh played a similar character in Fraud Saiyaan, but here he gets the strangest lines: in one scene, he brags about his road skills by saying he can smell an accident from miles afar. He uses the Hindi word ‘khushboo’ to describe the smell, as if destruction and death carried its own, sweet fragrance.
Nandita Das makes an odd comeback to Hindi films as Stella. Her natural competence as an actor creates a weird problem for her. Throughout the film, she appears at once immersed and hammy, weighing out the emotions in individual scenes but remaining clueless about the larger point of it all. Out on his rampage, Albert sees Stella in every woman he meets: a customer at a coffee shop, a prostitute at a roadhouse, and so on. All of these characters could’ve had their own mini-movies — not far from the way Nandita handled the stories in her own Manto — but nothing of that sort is ever attempted here.
Soumitra, a respected name in animation and children’s fiction (he’d directed the 2003 film Jajantaram Mamantaram), quells his thirst for hardboiled noir with Albert Pinto. Amateurishness dooms this film right from the start. It opens with Manav propped up on the snorricam (in 2019, good grief), dawdles fondly with genre tributes, and gets lost in a non-linear story it just can’t handle. The banter ranges from the Soviet-Afghan War to the 2G Scam to casual paedophilia. After a while, I couldn’t tell the dream and real sequences apart: they all looked equally fake, and equally hot, with the walls of rooms resembling the insides of ovens.
At a bar, Albert refuses to order beer for himself, asking instead for orange juice. “For once, you have done the right thing,” Shukla tells him. Saeed Mirza’s film raised a potent toast to working-class fury. Its remake though is a mocktail.