May 18, 2018
Sumeet Vyas, Kumud Mishra, Natasha Rastogi, Taaruk Raina, Sonnalli Seygall, Sarthak Kakar, Mantra Mugdh, Sarang Sathaye, Muzammil Qureshi
A DJ whose career is in the doldrums agrees to carry a package on a flight without knowing what it is. He is travelling by an airline that is about to shut down, and as it happens, he chooses to fly on a day when the plane is hijacked by a bunch of disgruntled employees. The ensuing chaos spirals further when drugged passengers enter the mix. The title of course is a play on “hijack” and a drug-induced “high”.
An accomplished director of comedy could have turned Adhir Bhat’s story for High Jack into a rib-tickling affair. Sadly for this film and some of its gifted cast members, Akarsh Khurana seems not to be that person. Khurana, who was a co-writer on the screenplays of Krrish and Krrish 3, has written this screenplay too in addition to helming the project. Despite brimming with potentially hilarious situations and boasting of some razor-sharp actors, High Jack crash-lands not long after it takes off.
Sumeet Vyas plays DJ Rakesh / Rockesh who is desperate for money and a career. Vyas was impeccable last year as the joint lead with Kalki Koechlin in director Rakhee Sandilya’s incredibly realistic Ribbon. In High Jack he displays a flair for comedy that will hopefully in future be tapped in a better-directed film. His natural affinity for the camera and spot-on dialogue delivery along with the presence of the always dependable Kumud Mishra and Natasha Rastogi as fellow passengers Mr and Mrs Taneja, are not enough though to salvage this half-cooked enterprise.
The fact is, there are several laugh-out-loud moments in High Jack. The opening scenes on the plane with Rakesh, the intrusive young fellow seated across the aisle and the squabbling Tanejas are rip-roaringly funny. A joke that could have been deemed Islamophobic is turned on its head, and Mr Taneja’s wisecracks about a possibly transsexual flight attendant are repeatedly called out for their prejudice. Yet the film faces turbulence from multiple quarters.
Foremost among them is the indifferent casting and writing of the supporting characters other than these four. They mostly sit around unenthused even by gun-toting men taking over the plane, as if their entire beings are too botoxed to react. Sonnalli Seygall, who played one of the evil girlfriends in Pyaar Ka Punchnama and its sequel, is cast as a pilot of whom zero acting is required.
A sense of urgency is sorely missing from the atmosphere of that aircraft from the instant that it is hijacked. Scenes involving air traffic control officials and the airline office completely lack energy. But the death knell is rung halfway through the film when the humour starts getting repetitive. Soon the narrative is so haphazard that it appears as though no one knows quite what to do with it.
The slapdash editing – visual and audio – gives High Jack a flaccid feel, with too many shots, scenes and silences in between over-staying their welcome. In the end, the film remains a stringing together of good concepts that are not carried to their fruition. Such as that rap number titled Aapaatkaaleen (Emergency) playing in Rakesh’s drug-addled brain, muddling up lines from standard in-flight announcements by pilots and cabin crew: “Iss vimaan mein chheh aapaatkaaleen dwaar hai / Do saamne / Do-do wings ke oopar / Do-do-do saamne / Do-do wings ke oopar / Do-do saamne / Do-do wings ke oopar / Do do do / Do do / Do do do / Do do.”
“This aircraft has six emergency exits / Two in front / Two each above the wings / Two-two-two in front / Two each above the wings / Two each in front / Two each above the wings / Two two two / Two two / Two two two / two two.” It is a clever idea, funny and zippy at first, then it gets tedious, and then it unravels too soon. Just like the film.
It is hard to believe that High Jack passed muster with Phantom Films, same producers that have given us the high-quality Lootera, Queen, Masaan, NH10, and Anurag Kashyap’s best directorial works of the decade, Raman Raghav 2.0 and this year’s Mukkabaaz. High Jack? Really guys?
Rating (out of five stars): *
CBFC Rating (India):
102 minutes 27 seconds
A version of this review has also been published on Firstpost:
Poster courtesy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Jack_(film)