For a film about money and its trappings, Gauravv K. Chawla’s “Baazaar” doesn’t seem too keen on learning the lessons it imparts to the audience. In the first 10 minutes, there is a not-so-subtle ad for a digital wallet company, and the rest of the film is also an exercise in how not to be subtle about your message.
Chawla obviously wants to show the folly of greed, but with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. This is a film where a business newspaper is called “The Monetary Times”, people speak of buying companies like they would talk of buying clothes, and the fate of multi-billion-dollar conglomerates are decided in one trading day. It’s all too ridiculous to comprehend, but the farce seems to be lost on Chawla and writer Aseem Arora.
They position their two protagonists as two cliched characters – Saif Ali Khan as the evil, conniving Shakun Kothari, a man who built his empire through dishonest means, and Rizwan Ahmed (Rohan Mehra), a star-struck broker from Allahabad who aims to reach the heights that Kothari has.
When the two men finally meet, Rizwan thinks his life’s ambition has been achieved, but soon finds himself caught in the quagmire that is Kothari’s business.
Rizwan’s naivety about how businesses work might be hard to digest, but it doesn’t match the lack of finesse shown by the director and writer. Chawla plays on stereotypes - the business-minded Gujarati, the ambitious small-town boy, the disgruntled wife - to the hilt. The dialogue is over-the-top, and the whole proceeding feels as staged as an amateur drama.
The film’s only trump cards are its actors. You have to give credit to Saif Ali Khan and Radhika Apte for playing such hollow and badly written roles with such conviction. Rohan Mehra is as earnest as his character, but is saddled with a debut film that is as dishonest as the people it seems to revile.