A hostage crisis has gripped the Bombay High Court, and it has nothing to do with litigants tired of waiting for the wheels of justice to turn.

In a prologue to Saurabh Varma’s 114-minute thriller, a group of masked robbers unsuccessfully try to storm Khemka Towers, the corporate headquarters of the evil Kabeer Khemka (Rohit Vir). Some months later, Uttar Pradesh police officer Arjun (Shiv Pandit) has invaded the Bombay High Court and single-handedly taken seven men hostage. Arjun wants justice for his slain girlfriend Maya, for which he blames Kabeer. Wisecracking officer on duty Ramesh Dhadke (Varun Bandola) is unsuited for the job, and there’s also a supposedly scary but inept sniper named Amol Palekar (Kettan Singh) hired by Kabeer to kill Arjun on the prowl. When rulebook-breaking officer Shukla (Sandeepa Dhar) arrives on the scene, it appears that Arjun has met his match and the mystery will be solved.

Not yet: there are convolutions and contrivances to deliver and tacky computer-generated imagery to roll out before the denouement that has been staring everybody in the face. Varun Bandola has immense fun and some of the best lines as the bumbling cop, but the rest of the cast is too hammy to merit attention. Dhar is miscast as a high-kicking officer, while Pandit glowers throughout his performance. Varma, who has previously directed Mickey Virus (2013), tries to create a Hollywood feel on a minisicule budget and shoots on real locations wherever possible, but it’s hard to keep a straight face when Kabeer is showing playing golf on the terrace of an unfinished building.


‘Rough Book’

Anant Mahadevan’s deadly earnest exploration of the commercialisation of education is about as exciting as a homework assignment. Tannishta Chatterjee plays Santoshi, a grim-faced physics teacher who likes to use games and demonstrations to make her lessons more interesting. Santoshi gets disillusioned after her tax commissioner husband is caught concealing bribes at their house. The fact that the wads of money were hidden behind her precious books drives Santoshi back into the arms of her spiritual guru (Suhasini Mulay), who advises that failure is as important to face as success.

Santoshi resumes her teaching responsibilities at a college that values marks over comprehension. She goes about converting her classroom of rejects into IIT-JEE aspirants. Santoshi rails against coaching classes, but it’s ultimately the extra tutorials that help her wards shine. The message is muddled and the pace glacial even at 90 minutes. Most of the acting is strictly functional, with Chatterjee making an unlikely inspirational teacher of the wonders of physics, and the production values are better suited for television than the big screen.