Phamous struggles to justify its existence. Sequences tumble into each other with barely any coherence or sense of rhythm; the talented cast flounders at the best of times. The 114-minute movie looks as though it was made many years ago, when the production values of films about the North Indian hinterland were as low as the mercury levels in winter. There is little value any more in watching rural thugs swagger about with big guns and bigger egos unless there is something new to say about this inescapable Indian reality. Phamous attempts to explore the tragedy of a region caught in an endless cycle of violence and retribution, but it says little, and says it badly.

The convoluted plot revolves around the abduction and forced marriages of women in the Chambal region. Shambhu (Jackie Shroff) prevents Kadak Singh (Kay Kay Menon) from kidnapping his daughter at her wedding ceremony, and his actions lands him in prison. Meanwhile, Kadak Singh rules the roost along with crooked politicians Ram Vijay (Pankaj Tripathi) and Babban (Jameel Khan).

A young man fascinated by the area’s notorious gun culture enters the picture. Radhe (Jimmy Sheirgill) idolises Kadak Singh and dreams of possessing a weapon of his own, but when Ram Tripathi sets his lecherous eyes on Radhe’s wife Lalli (Shriya Saran), Radhe has to make a choice.

Kay Kay Menon hams furiously, Pankaj Tripati and Jameel Khan pick up their pay cheques with utmost professionalism, while Jimmy Sheirgill struggles to be convincing with an ill-fitting wig. Characters show up and disappear, such as Radhe’s brother, played by Deep Raj Rana. Shriya Saran overstays her welcome. Although the story spans many years, nobody ages, except, perhaps, the poor viewer gazing longingly at the exit.

Phamous (2018).