Opening this week

‘Lucknow Central’ film review: Freedom and music in an absorbing prison drama

Ranjit Tiwari’s debut feature coasts along on strong performances and a mostly absorbing, if overblown, plot.

Farhan Akhtar is cast as a singer yet again after the Rock On!!! movies, but he doesn’t sing in his hoarse voice this time, which works very well for the actor-director as well as debutant filmmaker Ranjit Tiwari.

Akhtar delivers a convincing performance as Kishen, whose big dream to form a music band is ruined after he is framed for the murder of a government officer and sentenced to life. When the state’s chief minister (Ravi Kishen) orders that Kishen’s prison, Lucknow Central, win an inter-jail band competition, Kishen sees a chance to escape his unjust incarceration. Encouraged by social worker Gayatri (Diana Penty), Kishen assembles a group of misfits, none of whom can hold a note but all of who want to flee the coop. They are played by Rajesh Sharma, Gippy Grewal, Deepak Dobriyal and Inaamulhaq. The police chief (Virendra Saxena) cooperatives with their game after being threatened with a transfer if the scheme doesn’t work. The party-pooper is the cruel jail warden (Ronit Roy), who immediately divines Kishen’s real motives and tries very hard to place obstacles in his path.

Based on a screenplay by Aseem Arora, Lucknow Central walks down familiar corridors, but it manages to make well-trodden material seem far more interesting than it actually is. Despite its unwieldy length and unconvincing climax, the movie is far superior to the similarly themed August 25 release Qaidi Band, with better developed characters, a better narrative and score and welcome humour. The ill-treatment of inmates in Indian prisons has been seen before but bears repeating, even if the perennially petulant and eternally glamourous Gayatri isn’t the best vehicle. The movie manages to be less preachy than Qaidi Band was about the state of undertrials in India. Humour mingles with the pathos of prison life with some good tunes along the way, including a rousing remix of Kawa Kawa from Monsoon Wedding (2001).

Play
Lucknow Central (2017).

The performances are evenly divided too, with Ronit Roy making for a convincing, if familiar, psychopath in uniform and the ever-dependable Rajesh Sharma infusing necessary humanity into his character. Ravi Kishen has a delightful cameo as the chief minister who will have his way to ensure that he tops the trending charts, even if he doesn’t quite understand what that is.

Time spent in prison assumes an elastic and unreliable quality, and it is unfortunate that Tiwari lets his movie to be infected too. There is far too much going on here for 147 minutes, with an overwritten build-up and an overblown climax, which undermines not just the jailer’s authority but narrative logic too. The eardrum-shattering background music only heavily underlines what is already evident, and we await the day when movie scores elevate a scene, rather than rub it in our faces.

The scenes that linger are the one involving the interactions between the five band mates, especially the moment when four of them get out on parole and realise that life outside prison is hardly any better. Inside jail, there is camaraderie, music, and the faint hope of recognition and respect.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

A special shade of blue inspired these musicians to create a musical piece

Thanks to an interesting neurological condition called synesthesia.

On certain forums on the Internet, heated discussions revolve around the colour of number 9 or the sound of strawberry cupcake. And most forum members mount a passionate defence of their points of view on these topics. These posts provide insight into a lesser known, but well-documented, sensory condition called synesthesia - simply described as the cross wiring of the senses.

Synesthetes can ‘see’ music, ‘taste’ paintings, ‘hear’ emotions...and experience other sensory combinations based on their type. If this seems confusing, just pay some attention to our everyday language. It’s riddled with synesthesia-like metaphors - ‘to go green with envy’, ‘to leave a bad taste in one’s mouth’, ‘loud colours’, ‘sweet smells’ and so on.

Synesthesia is a deeply individual experience for those who have it and differs from person to person. About 80 different types of synesthesia have been discovered so far. Some synesthetes even have multiple types, making their inner experience far richer than most can imagine.

Most synesthetes vehemently maintain that they don’t consider their synesthesia to be problem that needs to be fixed. Indeed, synesthesia isn’t classified as a disorder, but only a neurological condition - one that scientists say may even confer cognitive benefits, chief among them being a heightened sense of creativity.

Pop culture has celebrated synesthetic minds for centuries. Synesthetic musicians, writers, artists and even scientists have produced a body of work that still inspires. Indeed, synesthetes often gravitate towards the arts. Eduardo is a Canadian violinist who has synesthesia. He’s, in fact, so obsessed with it that he even went on to do a doctoral thesis on the subject. Eduardo has also authored a children’s book meant to encourage latent creativity, and synesthesia, in children.

Litsa, a British violinist, sees splashes of paint when she hears music. For her, the note G is green; she can’t separate the two. She considers synesthesia to be a fundamental part of her vocation. Samara echoes the sentiment. A talented cellist from London, Samara can’t quite quantify the effect of synesthesia on her music, for she has never known a life without it. Like most synesthetes, the discovery of synesthesia for Samara was really the realisation that other people didn’t experience the world the way she did.

Eduardo, Litsa and Samara got together to make music guided by their synesthesia. They were invited by Maruti NEXA to interpret their new automotive colour - NEXA Blue. The signature shade represents the brand’s spirit of innovation and draws on the legacy of blue as the colour that has inspired innovation and creativity in art, science and culture for centuries.

Each musician, like a true synesthete, came up with a different note to represent the colour. NEXA roped in Indraneel, a composer, to tie these notes together into a harmonious composition. The video below shows how Sound of NEXA Blue was conceived.

Play

You can watch Eduardo, Litsa and Samara play the entire Sound of NEXA Blue composition in the video below.

Play

To know more about NEXA Blue and how the brand constantly strives to bring something exclusive and innovative to its customers, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of NEXA and not by the Scroll editorial team.