Mumbai, 04 May 2019 7:00 IST
The film, starring Shreyas Talpade and Aftab Shivdasani, is based on entrance examination scams.
We have seen plenty of films about scamsters who loot others. Most of them portray the perpetrators as one-dimensional villains with their bad sides always in your face. Only occasionally do you see films like Neeraj Pandey's Special 26 (2013) or Ram Gopal Varma’s Company (2002) where the crooks are also portrayed as human.
Same is the case with director Ashwini Chaudhary’s latest offering, Setters, and this is the film's biggest advantage. So, we have Apurva Thakur (Shreyas Talpade), a champion when it comes to leaking question papers and plotting dummy candidates for railway, engineering and medical entrance exams.
Apurva is very particular about his profession. Yet, he also gives out a leaked question paper to a girl free because of her father’s dire financial condition.
The film focuses on a group of professional criminals who make a killing by harming the education system through their fraudulent activities. The syndicate is headed by the dangerous Bhaiyaji (Pavan Malhotra) from Benares aka Varanasi aka Kashi. Apurva is next in the hierarchy.
After a massive leak of the railways entrance examination papers, the Benares police vow to nail Bhaiyaji and Apurva and set a team led by inspector Aditya Singh (Aftab Shivdasani) on their tail. Interestingly, Apurva and Aditya were friends in college until the former went rogue.
The film zeroes in on the style of functioning of these 'setters' who work like thorough professionals. They believe in efficiency and results, like any professional organization. The whole incident of leaking question papers in the beginning is established well and believable. A lot depended on this incident to give the film a positive start and it is handled well.
Setters has an interesting and surprising cast. Frankly, Aftab Shivdasani's casting had not appeared to be a smart choice on paper. But the actor proves us wrong and how. He underplays the tough and honest inspector and doesn’t overact even in the angry scenes. This, incidentally, is Shivdasani's first role as a police officer.
It is also a welcome break to see Talpade in a non-comical role. He gets the Uttar Pradesh accent quite well and also puts on a restrained performance. The veteran Pavan Malhotra literally lives as Bhaiyaji, right down to his single expression that speaks a lot. You also can't miss his superb physique, belying his age of 60-plus!
As far as the women are concerned, Ishita Dutta doesn’t have much to do while Sonnalli Seygall, as a junior cop, is robotic.
Setters keeps the graph high with its exposure of the murky world of the 'setters' and the cat-and-mouse game between the good guys and the bad guys, until the latter part of the second half. A lot of Hindi films have this tendency of running into what we could call the 'second half syndrome' and Setters is no different.
The graph of the film changes with the change in the relationship between Apurva and Bhaiyaji. This is the most vital point in the plot which, unfortunately, is far from believable. Also, from this point onwards, the screenplay starts going around in circles and gets riddled with flaws. For example, Aditya’s team keeps following the bad guys without concealing themselves and this does not even prove to be a problem!
Irrespective of how a film’s journey has been, the climax always makes you curious to know if the bad guys get caught. But it seems the writers here wanted to indirectly announce a sequel. Or they just didn’t know how to end the story. It all ends very abruptly.
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