Notes from a screening: Shootout at Wadala

The review is here, and below are the notes I made while watching the film. As might be obvious, the film became less note-worthy and more boring as it progressed. 

Notice says this film is both fact and fiction. Why? Because encounters between the Mumbai police and gangsters are “grey areas”. Am trying to remember whether Wadala is mostly grey. Probably, given all the concrete.

John Abraham (JA) looks like someone stained him with walnut juice to darken his complexion. Now if he hadn’t used all that fairness cream…

Ok, there are four-year-olds without iPads who can do a better job of painting a background than these ’70s’ backdrops.

What the eff is Kangana Ranaut (KR) wearing?

There are dried bombil that are smaller than KR’s false eyelashes.

Whoa! Is that Sandeep the electrician getting stabbed by JA and his stepbrother?

Someone make a .gif out of KR watching the knifing.

Of course Manya Surve’s roll number is 302. And of course we discover this just as he is about to be found guilty as per Article 302 of the Indian Penal Code. How would we ever appreciate the irony of life without these subtle connections?


Cop takes off his belt, whips JA repeatedly all the way from college hallway to gate. So much easier to drag the dude to van. Cannot imagine any real cop expending so much energy. Plus, his pants would fall off.

Why does cop also look like he’s related to Snooki?

Wait. Even Tusshar Kapoor (TK) looks like he’s spent too much time in the tanning salon. In fact, everyone (except KR) does. This is like an environmentalist’s dream movie: global warming was worse in the 1970s than it is now.

Need to pick out murderer from line-up? Easy. Follow the jaw that’s jutting out the most. Or look for the guy with the most lustrous locks.

Considering how much that chap who killed JA’s brother grits his teeth, jailed murderers must have amazingly strong teeth.

Jail mein nirdosh or randikhaaney mein nirodh-ki koi jagah nahin hain.” Audience: stunned silence and then loud clapping. It’s like they can’t believe TK cracked a pun. (Non-English speaking readers: tough to translate because there’s a play on the way two words sound. Meaning: “There’s about as much point claiming to be innocent in jail as there is in carrying a condom to a whorehouse.” Yes, this is set in an era when STD made people think of phones rather than their private parts.)

JA and his bodybuilding teacher are doing tai chi. In Yerwada Jail. Who says we need prison reform?

Arif Zakaria’s introduction to Anil Kapoor (AK): “Inki tehzeeb mein bhi tezaab hain.” Taaliyan! (Non-English speaking readers: Again, tough to translate. Contains reference to one AK’s most popular films.)

Sonu Sood (SS) is playing Dawood? There’s a limerick waiting to be written here.

SS is the only Muslim gangster to not wear kajal/ kohl. Good lad.

They’ve fiddled with the names. Instead of Kaskar, Dawood and his bro are Haksars. Also, Dawood=Dilawar, Shabir (Manoj Bajpai)=Zubair. From the lack of sync in the lipping, seems like they’d shot using the real names but changed in dubbing. Also applies for the cops.

Arif Zakaria suggests the Mumbai police use the Haksar brothers the way Thakur used the two criminals in Sholay. “Since you can’t get Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra, you might as well turn to these two brothers.” There you go. We can blame it all on Bollywood.

AK rushes into his son’s school because he’s been told there’s a bomb in his son’s lunchbox. Finds son and lunchbox and chucks it out of the window. Because there wouldn’t be students outside the building in the school’s compound, of course.

A hardened gangster, used to indescribable violence, is squealing because he’s being thwacked by a pair of wet jeans. Ok then.

What to do when the laws against rape aren’t punishing enough? String up the rapists, naked, in a room. Hand the woman who was raped a belt and tell her she can do what she wants with them.

Somewhere along the way, JA has mysteriously gone from good Marathi mulga to an ace in all things criminal. Maybe this is what happens if you do too much tai chi in jail.

How to tell if a chap’s a gangster? 1. Excessive tanning. 2. Face must be scrunched. 3. Must stare at you as though he’s looking at you over invisible bifocals.

Enter Sunny Leone. What are these outfits?

There was a bar that looked like it should be in a spaghetti Western in the middle of Ballard Estate. Chap next to me: “Ballard Estate mast tha un dino, yaar.” (“Ballard Estate was a blast back in the day.”)

Ten years have made KR’s hair curlier and lashes longer.

When JA and KR do it, sex = pushups.

Why is the word “Ma” being constantly bleeped out?

For a few scenes after intermission, the film looks different. The visuals have the texture of a television serial.

What the eff is that dance move that Priyanka Chopra does in the song, “Bubbly Badmash Hai”?? It’s a thoroughly obscene gesture with only one objective: to make sure everyone stares at PC’s breasts. Why on earth would she agree to do this move? If the top heroines in Bollywood will cheerfully do choreography like this, how is this industry supposed to become any less sexist?

How do you know a movie has gone on for too long? Audience giggling at the sight of a man whose hands have been chopped off.

Manoj Bajpai being shot by lots of people. Except instead of dying, he’s break-dancing.


Is Sonu Sood’s moustache unstuck at one corner?

JA running shirtless. Even Sunny Leone wasn’t filmed as lovingly. “Boss! Body!” man next to me sighs. “Abs dekh!” his companion whispers in responses.

Audience loves the line that AK trots out about cops wearing khaki because it’s the only colour on which shit stains don’t show.

Overheard: “Jackie Shroff must have to pay excess baggage for the bags under his eyes.” Cheap shot but fair point.

The moment KR calls the police, one chap in the row behind me moans, “Ladki saali.”

Can’t help imagining an alternative ending in which KR whips off her false eyelashes and stabs AK with them, thus preventing multiple bullet wounds.


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