Film, Hindi, India, Review


Although Rajesh A Krishnan’s sophomore outing, Crew starring Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Kriti Sanon, has its share of a few quirky and enjoyable moments, it fails to work as a whole, coming across as all style but very little substance.

The film follows a trio of disgruntled, middle-class air hostesses – Geeta (Tabu), Divya (Sanon) and Jasmine (Kapoor Khan), who work for a failing airline. In order to make ends meet, they moonlight as gold smugglers before subsequently scheming to rob their employer.

On numerous occasions, heist films are guilty of getting caught up in futile over-expositions and unsatisfying cliché payoffs. In that sense, Crew gets on with its plot swiftly. The key advantage of this is that the plight of the titular characters is never over-sensationalised. Krishnan never coerces us to feel an iota of empathy for his characters. We may feel so if we want, but doesn’t spend time forcibly evoking those emotions within us. However, the  downside to this approach is that characters are never deeply explored and remain superficial, merely catering to the plot at hand. This is highly surprising for a Krishnan film to be so shallow as his directorial debut, Lootcase (2020), was so much more than just a stylised black comedy. Not only was it a character study of Nandan and his quirky impulses/tendencies, but rather a discourse on Indian middle-class mentality at large.

This failure on Crew‘s part is all the more disappointing because the theme provides Krishnan a novel opportunity: to shed light on working middle-class women, each in a different phase of life, through comedy. What has the potential to be a hilarious and sleek modern-day cross between Thelma & Louise (1990) – imbibing its protagonists’ bonhomie and camaraderie – and Jackie Brown (1997) – taking in its character exploration and narrative structure – is unfortunately reduced to a series of so-called ‘cool shots’ of so-called confident women strutting around in beautiful airports and forced comedy. What’s more, the plot is treated with tried and tested, uninspired formulas.

Each character in the film comes with their own set of agendas and emotional baggage. Geeta, known as Sethi ma’am to her colleagues, aspires to revitalise her life and marriage, planning to exit from the aviation world as soon as her PF payment comes through. A rational and pragmatic thinker, Geeta represents a section of working women who contribute as sole breadwinners, whose spouses are up to no good or are in a phase of unemployment due to unforeseen circumstances. Luckily for her, she has an understanding and empathetic husband (Kapil Sharma), who provides her with solid moral support. The major reservation one has about Geeta is that her integrity and morals shift too conveniently as per the demands of the narrative. As someone who is a role model to her juniors and respected by fellow colleagues, she takes little initiative to influence them against their criminal impulses.

Divya, an exemplary student and once upon a time basketball player and qualified pilot, is left with no choice but to become an air-hostess due to recession in the industry during the pandemic. Having been a quintessential good girl all her life and brought up in a stable household, it is understandable as to why Divya feels as though she has been served a raw deal. This however, is not justification enough for her to join forces with her colleagues and indulge in serious criminal activities. Her rekindled romance with an old flame, the investigating customs officer Jaiveer (Diljit Dosanjh) feels frankly unnecessary; the makers probably added this to bring a dimension of emotional stakes to the entire ‘cat-and-mouse chase’ which sadly fails to come across effectively.

The most intriguing and best fleshed out character in the entire film is that of Jasmine. Her transactional nature, materialism, fear of developing lasting interpersonal relationships and moral ambiguity is a result of a troubled childhood which compelled her to stay with her grandfather (the only person she is deeply attached to). It is in fact her arc that is most believable and also most susceptible to get attracted to the world of crime. There is a street-smartness and cunning about her which she carefully leverages to sway her colleagues.

There is little that performances can achieve if the writing is casual and disjointed.  The non-linear structure, although essential to mask gaps in the plot, feels redundant and the persistent spoon feeding of timelines does have the propensity to become irksome. Another takeaway is that the film for its entirety (and for better or worse), has the look and feel of an ad film. This is also detrimental to the pace and rhythm of the film – its fast-paced editing might keep the plot moving but the emotional/heavy moments are never juiced out to their maximum.

The cinematography is effective while the production design, colour schemes and costumes are meticulously thought through, refraining from being inessentially surreal. The original music of the film is out of place and disconnected from the narrative, while the background score is time worn and continuous, being counterproductive to the humour and emotion within a given scene.

Overall, Crew proves yet again that there is nothing more dissatisfying than a promising theme that fails to realise its potential in the hands of more than capable makers.


Hindi, Comedy, Color

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