Crime flick Aurangzeb casts a cynical eye on modern India

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      Starring Arjun Kapoor, Prithiviraj Kapoor, and Rishi Kapoor.

      Director Atul Sabharwal has patterned Aurangzeb on the complex family sagas that were typical of Bollywood in the 1970s. This is a tangled tale of brothers, separated as children, reunited in a web of power, steeped in revenge and greed. While the elements may be familiar, this incarnation is grounded in the politics and corporate exploitation of the modern Indian city.

      Arya (Prithiviraj Kapoor) is a police officer who has been trained by his uncle Ravikant (Rishi Kapoor), a high-ranking officer, to be discreetly corrupt. Arya’s own father was a disgraced cop who left behind his mistress and her son. That son, Vishal (Arjun Kapoor in a dual role), is the twin brother of Ajay, heir to Yashwardhan (Jackie Schroff), a powerful business man whose illegal activities run the city. 

      Ravikant launches a plan to switch the twins and infiltrate Yashwardhan’s inner circle. The switch takes place and Vishal begins to live the life that would have been his. But as each brother becomes acquainted with their estranged parent, loyalties begin to slide and the narrative is twisted around so many times that we are never quite sure who is on what side.

      This is a male dominated film, where the many female characters exist only to support their men. However, Nina (Amrita Singh) stands out as the conniving mistress of Yashwardhan whose own business acumen and ambition should not be underestimated. In contrast, the insipid Rita (Sashaa Agha) is unbearable as Ajay’s masochistic girlfriend.

      There is a lot to keep track of in this film. Each character has multiple allegiances and numerous motivations. But Aurangzeb keeps you engaged as it reimagines the classic Bollywood trope of brothers on opposite sides of the law and the potential redemption of filial love. Sadly, cynicism and ambivalence are the modern components to this narrative.