June 29, 2012 Y. Sunita Chowdary
Story: Mumbai in 2003: Pratap Pandit (Sonu Sood), an encounter specialist who remembers being a problem child talks about many things with a group of small time gangsters, informers infact plays cards, visits the pub and has chai and kheema pav over regular conversations with a journalist. In short he is corrupt.
The journalist who reports on the changing nature of encounter cops doesn't accept any favours from this one but surprisingly stays with him. The wife sniffs his intentions when he visits film city for a starlet but he continues with his job till Arun Inamdar (Naseeruddin Shah) arrives as head of the anti-extortion cell and the power equations change.
Media plays up rumours as each of them are obsessed with the number of encounter shoots that go into their account. The duo are out to show their supremacy, Pandit had worked with Inamdar as his junior and now a construction company files a complaint about him extorting money, his links with real estate players following which an inquiry is ordered and he is suspended. The scribe and a politician continue to support Pandit.
Mumbai in 2005: Everyone is on their own, journo becomes a bureau chief and Pandit is exonerated and is advised to play it big. There is an explanation for his silence when he is suspended, he says, "Stay on the top or keep silent." While the department is not happy and wants to appeal against the order, Kasab strikes and the establishment wakes up.
Now it's Inamdar's time to kill flies, he is transferred to an ordinary police station and is damn sure about Pandit who's back in job who would extort openly would do it from behind. What happens next?
Analysis: The director goes elaborately on Pandit's character. While he shoots, his wife clears the blood off his shirt. He is constantly telling his daughter Esha to tie her shoe lace, this advice comes intermittently making one wonder if the shoe laces have something to do with the climax and yes it does.
While Sonu Sood shows resilience in the face of adversity, lust through his eyes while in the caravan of a movie artiste, adoration in the form of a husband and a doting dad, dutiful son, he surprisingly fails to bring across the intensity of enmity between him and Inamdar. The way he lures the journalist is fine and subtle as he appreciates the human angle given to a story covered by the scribe.
On the other hand Naseer gets less screen space, fewer dialogues but displays the conflict in various shades. His smart appearance is a major plus, it does accentuate his character. For example, he recites a nursery rhyme and leaves it incomplete for the scribe to finish it. While raising the conflicting points between the cops, the director even while introducing the characters, their behaviour takes the viewers for granted that they must be aware of the machinations and internecine rivalries in the police department.
A politician's confession that morality slips when the object they desire and have been working towards for so many years appears at once, announced and easy, their love, loyalty gets clouded. There are lot of discussions, boring long drawn conversations but there is hardly any direct conflict, in between there are too many agents and other character development. Pandit's father reciting Shakespeare in rain serves no purpose except that we learn that real men are those who have tameez and know poetry.
Amit Sadh as a scribe does a decent job and keeps one guessing if he has a major role towards the end. Neha Dhupia is beautiful in a saree. The cops who are supposed to root out evil get blood on their hands for 'maximum' power, thereby defeating the purpose. Pandit's wife who claims to sniff and assess her husband's character doesn't get suspicious at all and doesn't bother to know about his morals, instead engages a astrologer to come out of the bad period.
Maximum has a strong plot that reflects the real professional lives of cops in Mumbai but as the story progresses you sense the real flesh in the characters go missing especially Sonu Sood's and Naseer's.
Sonu is silent when he needs to speak and speaks when he needs to be silent. FYI when the cops are shooting at each other your sympathies don't lie with either as Naseer's character too goes silent at one stage. Aa ante Amalapuram is good but what is the point when a film that has maximum scope makes a minimum impact?