Crew Review: A Heist Film Out To Deliver Some Harmless Fun

A still from Crew. (courtesy: rheakapoor)

A rambunctious and covetous trio of flight attendants steer Crew, a crime comedy that is at best a fits-and-starts affair. The low-yield film taxis to its designated runway without any visible hitch but, once airborne, runs into strong head winds and many an uncomfortable wobble.

The positives first. Yes, there are a few, not the least of which is Kareena Kapoor, who turns the clock back a bit and lets her hair down without a care in the world. She comes up trumps. Tabu, too, rises above the din despite being saddled with a rather sketchily delineated character who has to carry much of the film’s weight on her shoulders.

That apart, at a time when a segment of Bollywood is busy foisting selective history lessons and polarizing propaganda movies upon us, a heist film out to deliver some harmless fun without an agenda, not even a feminist one (which would be in order anyway), should be lauded for being what it is – an unapologetic caper about the rich robbing the nation and three representatives of a struggling middle class seeking to pay the wealthy back in their own coin.

It is another matter that Crew would have been much more fun if only it knew how to buoy things up with strokes of genuine inspiration. Yes, that is what is sorely missing in a film that goes for gold but fails to find a source of sustained sparkle.

The screenplay by Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri lacks sheen of the kind that could take our attention away from the film’s drawbacks. It tries its darndest to be funny. It succeeds only sporadically and mildly.

Three feisty ladies who are not averse to bending the rules to further their own ends drive the film. They do not, however, stand on a soap-box and speak of empowerment and gender equality. They have achieved both in no uncertain terms. Their fight is against the aviation company that they work for and against their own lot in life.

The film’s protagonists, airhostesses who haven’t been paid their salaries for six months, stumble upon a golden opportunity when their in-flight supervisor (Ramakant Dayama) drops dead some 35,000 feet in the air. They grab it with gusto only to discover soon enough that the pursuit of gold – essential as it is – has its share of pitfalls.

Tabu plays Geeta Sethi, a former Miss Karnal who is happily married but spends her waking hours fretting over unpaid wages and mounting loan defaults. Kareena Kapoor is cast as Jasmine Kohli, who has been raised by her maternal grandfather (Kulbhushan Kharbhanda). Even as she struggles to pay her house rent, the spirited woman dreams of owning a beauty products company. Her mantra: always have a Plan B.

Kriti Sanon is Divya Rana, a class topper from a nondescript Haryana town with an airstrip that has never been put to any use. She is a trained pilot but as a result of a downturn in the aviation industry has had to settle for the job of a cabin crew member. She conceals the fact from her parents for the fear of breaking their hearts.

Geeta, Jasmine and Divya, who are thick as thieves but have their friendship frequently tested, do not shy away when the chance to alter their destiny comes their way. But they have an unrelenting Customs official, Sub-Inspector Mala (Trupti Khamkar, who steals some of the leading ladies’ thunder), to reckon with.

Acting on a tip-off, the sub-inspector orders a thorough search of the aircraft that Geeta, Jasmine and Divya are on. The three ladies are forced to deboard. They are under scanner on suspicion of smuggling gold from Mumbai to a fictitious Middle Eastern country.

This is the point where Crew begins. The film circles back to the same juncture at the intermission mark. The second half loses power rather quickly because nothing that the protagonists do to set things right for themselves has any element of surprise.

Hang on, there’s one. Customs official Jaiveer Singh (Diljit Dosanjh in a guest appearance) pops up and the film perks up just a tad. Divya knows him, having once had a brief encounter with him after a pint of beer. Will the man bail the girls out for old time’s sake?

Crew is director Rajesh A. Krishnan’s first theatrical release. He debuted on a streaming platform in 2020 with the lively Lootcase. The two films, poles apart in terms of scale and ambition, are bound by their absurdist overtones and an empathy with victims of an economic system in which the rich get richer and the poor survive on unrealised aspirations.

The three principal characters of Crew are, however, not the kind who are given to playing victims. The men in their lives are nice blokes. Geeta’s husband (Kapil Sharma in a special appearance) stands by her through thick and thin. Jasmine’s grandpa is both pal and protector. And the guy who flits in and out of Divya’s life – Jaiveer – can charm the birds from the trees without lifting a finger.

All that the girls demand is a better deal from life and the moneybags who control it. They are done with their fake lives and faux vibes – best illustrated by Jasmine when she filches a Louis Vuitton bag to click a selfie with. They are now ready to turn the tables on their exploiters no matter what the consequences are. There is much potential in here that remains untapped.

Crew is a flight that never reaches cruising altitude. It runs low on fuel precisely when it is time to get off the ground. Stuck on a narrative tarmac strewn with predictable inanities, the film is undoubtedly pretty to behold thanks to all the glamour and sass that the three lead actresses bring to the table. But all the beauty that we see on the screen is only skin-deep.


Tabu, Kareena Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, Diljit Dosanjh and Kapil Sharma


Rajesh A Krishnan

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