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The business and underworld of the Indian police department is showcased with style and great performances. But it still feels same-ol' same-ol', just the jobs of the people doing it is the same.
Maximum is depressing. It looks like a play between two policemen who are neither at the top of the department nor at the lowest ranks, so they do have a decent amount of power each. But indeed, there are many more, more important characters. Like the umpteen underworld films it is not a war between good and evil, or wrong and right. It is just human beings, each being their own shade of gray. That makes for perfect 'enjoyable story' material despite lack of relatable characters you can root for. Yet, once you get over the sadness that overwhelms you while you watch police officers do what goons do, only with more authority, you realize it is just one of those gang war films.
And that's the most depressing bit about Maximum. That a war between two policemen is nothing short of a gang war - thematically and morally. Of course, I'm not saying any of what is shown in the film comes as a shock. If there is goonism and business in politics; politics and goonism in business, why should it come as a surprise that there is goonism, business and politics within law enforcement. Yet, it made me uncomfortable when policemen shot goons down because the were the others' informers or when one had to pay another to save an informer. For this discomfort, for some good performances, for a good start, Maximum might be worth your while, if you were looking forward to it.
On the other hand, except for the first half hour or so, there is a lot of dramatization, lots of motifs and symbols thrown in your face and many such pitfalls that a director falls in, in trying to do all the cool things in one film. Maximum spreads itself thin even in terms of giving space to its characters. It is always a tough task to do justice to all the main characters even they are in small roles, especially when they are being played by such good actors. From Naseeruddin Shah and Sonu Sood to Dr. Mohan Agashe, Vinay Pathak to Rajendra Gupta, Neha Dhupia, Amit Sadh - each one make you believe in their character. Most of them make you feel for them at some small level, which is a lot for a film that is a 'goon' story at its heart.
Even though you cannot be satisfied with exposure given to most of their characters, you appreciate the attempt at giving them some depth. Which is why the lack of detail to Naseeruddin Shah's character, Inamdaar, seems unfair. While you know almost all there is to Sonu Sood's Pandit, there is very little you know of Inamdaar's background, character or motivations.
And despite these shortcomings, Maximum plays out well as an interesting story, especially in the beginning where the meat of the story lies. Close to interval, the pace drops and never picks up after that. The soporific background music and constant use of slow-motion doesn't help. Neither does the constant punctuation by item numbers under the guise of the policemen's dance bar visits. I also liked the symbolic survival of innocence, honesty(?) and loyalty.
Maximum felt like it had an interesting story to tell but got lost in its way amongst lots of intriguing characters and too many things to tell. A little prioritization might have allowed the writer and director to focus on what the story was about.
- meetu, a part of the audience
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