CHENNAI: India’s Dharma Productions is a hub that just about everybody wants to aim for, and its partnership with Netflix calls for celebration.
But the prestigious production house and the equally lauded streaming giant have now released an eminently forgettable work, “Drive.”
Written and helmed by Tarun Mansukhani, the film – out only on Netflix without a theatrical opening – boasts of actors such as Sushant Singh Rajput, Pankaj Tripathi, Boman Irani and with somewhat lesser credentials, Jacqueline Fernandez. However, Fernandez gets most of the screen time with Rajput (whose impressive credits include “Kai Po Che!” and “M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story”) playing second fiddle.
The reason is clear: Fernandez and the bevy of eyelash-fluttering beauties around her are part of the skin-show parade. With the likes of “Beasts of No Nation,” “Roma” and “The Meyerowitz Stories” in its basket, Netflix should pause and ponder before rushing into a dead end such as “Drive.”
To begin with, viewers must not confuse Mansukhani’s movie with the 2011 American action drama also titled “Drive” by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (whose parents were fans of the French New Wave film movement), starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. Gosling essays a Hollywood stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for robbers.
Mansukhani may have taken a cue from the American movie by turning his lead pair Singh (Samar) and Fernandez (Tara) into not just racing drivers but also heist kingpins.
Tara plans to rob the millions stashed away inside a secret vault in the Rashtrapati Bhawan (presidential palace in New Delhi) by Vibha, head of the Monetary Restrictions Authority. She collects huge bribes from rich tax-evaders, and Samar is her partner in crime.
Heist films do come with their implausibilities, but “Drive” can drive you crazy with its countless twists and turns peppered with rank bad performances. Rajput never lets go of his plastic smile, and Fernandez tries hard to turn herself into a Mata Hari, but totters.
Even brilliant actors like Tripathi and Irani sleepwalk through this maze of a plot in which CGI work resembles a video game. As for Shweta Nair’s (who, incidentally, was born and raised in Dubai) part, it is a mere blink and miss.
Really, Netflix should not dump such senseless fare on viewers, used to as they are to some landmark entertainment from the streaming giant.