Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Emmay Entertainment’s Lucknow Central (UA) is the story of a young, innocent music aficionado, framed for murder and put behind bars.
Kishan Girhotra (Farhan Akhtar) is a young man who lives in Moradabad with his old father (Robin Das). Music is his passion and he dreams of one day making his own music band. But his dreams come crashing down when one day he is framed for the murder of an IAS officer (Ajay Kumar). He is arrested and lodged in the dreaded Lucknow Central jail. He is given life imprisonment but that’s not all – the deceased IAS officer’s family is moving the court to secure death penalty for Kishan.
A social activist, Gayatri Kashyap (Diana Penty), works for the reformation of undertrials and prisoners. During the course of her work, she meets Kishan a couple of times.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Pawan Singh Chaturvedi (Ravi Kishan) is keen to have a music competition in the coming Independence Day celebrations to be held in the Lucknow Central jail and asks the IG Prisons (Virendra Saxena) to form a music band of prisoners in his jail. Although the IG is reluctant initially, he soon comes around because the chief minister will not take ‘no’ for an answer. But the jailor of the Lucknow Central jail, Raja Shrivastav (Ronit Roy), hates the idea of the music band and tries his level best to thwart it. However, Gayatri takes it upon herself to form a music band with the prisoners in Lucknow Central jail. Kishan volunteers to take the lead as he is interested in music. He also sees this as a golden opportunity to escape from jail.
Kishan forms a music band with four other prisoners – Parminder Gill (Gippy Grewal), Victor (Deepak Dobriyal), Dikkat Ansari (Inaam-ul-haq) and Panditji (Rajesh Sharma). The four prisoners are all serving jail time for crimes they’ve committed. They are not even remotely connected to music, but Kishan lures them into joining the music band by sharing his jail-break plan with them. The five work hard and practise regularly, much to the discomfort of jailor Raja Shrivastav who senses that they would escape from jail, using the music band as a front. The five also simultaneously make preparations for their escape on Independence Day.
What happens on Independence Day? Do the five prisoners perform? Do they win the competition? Do they escape? Does Kishan get death penalty? Or does he continue to serve life imprisonment? Or is he proved innocent? If so, how?
Ranjit Tiwari and Aseem Arora’s story is off the beaten track but it bears a lot of resemblance to the recently released (but failed) Qaidi Band. Since not many have seen Qaidi Band, the novelty value of the story remains quite intact. But since one has seen jail-break stories in several past films too, the novelty pertains to only the track of the music band. By its very nature, the story is depressing because it talks about undertrials and prisoners and most of the material drama takes place inside a jail. The screenplay, penned by Aseem Arora, is good in parts only. The first half is not very engaging as it takes too long to come to the point. Although the pre-interval portion establishes the characters, there is limited movement in the story and that too is slow. The pace picks up after interval but even in the second half, it is only portions of jail break planning and the actual jail break sequences which are exciting. Even this drawback may have been overlooked but what goes against the film the most is that the audience never really feels terribly bad for Kishan. Blame it on his confidence inside the jail or his happy-go-lucky nature or his arrogance when being ill-treated by a group of prisoners in the initial days, but the viewers never really shed a tear for Kishan’s predicament. For that matter, there is nobody among the five band members towards whom the audience’s sympathy goes, and this is because the other four are, in fact, criminals. Perhaps, the only scene in which the weak-hearted viewer would shed a tear is in the courtroom scene in the climax. Consequently, the screenplay fails to shake the viewer emotionally. It also does not give the audience an exhilarating high when Kishan realises his dream of forming a music band.
Aseem Arora’s dialogues are good at places.
Farhan Akhtar does well in the role of Kishan but he fails to evoke sympathy for himself. Diana Penty is average and is unable to get variation in her performance. Ronit Roy is pretty effective in the role of the jailor of Lucknow Central jail. He breathes fire into the role. Gippy Grewal is quite good as Parminder Gill. Deepak Dobriyal shines in the role of Victor. Inaam-ul-haq is fairly nice as Dikkat. Rajesh Sharma performs very ably as Panditji. Ravi Kishan is extremely entertaining as chief minister Pawan Singh Chaturvedi. Virendra Saxena delivers a fine performance as IG Prisons. Manav Vij has his moments as prisoner Tilakdhari. Alok Pandey makes his presence felt in a tiny role as Bunty and moves the viewers to tears in the climax scene. Robin Das (as Kishan’s father) lends able support. Brijendra Kala and Ajay Kumar (as the IAS officer) are adequate.
Ranjit Tiwari’s direction is average. The debut-making director knows the craft but needs to learn more about involving the audience and keeping them engaged. Music (Arjunna Harjaie, Rochak Kohli and Tanishk Bagchi) is appealing but a film about a music band ought to have had super-hit or, at least, hit music. Lyrics (by Kumaar and Adeesh Verma) are appropriate. Bosco-Caesar’s choreography is realistic. Arjunna Harjaie’s background music is reasonably good. Tushar Kanti Ray has done a fine job of his camerawork. Mohd. Amin Khatib’s action and stunt scenes are quite exciting. Production designing (by Amit Ray and Subrata Chakraborty) is alright. Charu Shree Roy’s editing ought to have been sharper.
On the whole, Lucknow Central is good in parts only but quite boring otherwise. It will, therefore, not be able to do much at the turnstiles. Flop.