About the story: Six men, unknown to each other, are gathered in a prison cell in Los Angeles, detained for questioning: ex-gangster Yashvardhan Rampal, aka Major (Amitabh Bachchan), pimp Jay Rehan, aka Ajju (Sanjay Dutt), bouncer Marc Issak (Suniel Shetty), moron Raj Yadav, aka Bali (Mahesh Manjrekar), quiet Maqbool Haider, aka Mak (Lucky Ali) and software specialist Anand Mathur, aka Andy (Kumar Gaurav). All of them are under suspicion to have raided a money transporter. Unnerved by the long examinations Ajju suggests to his fellows in misery to take revenge on the police and to rob the Service American Bank where most of the cops have their accounts. All the five are willing to join in Ajju’s plan, and after their release the Major organises the coup in every detail. But after the raid, the six men face a police task force in front of the bank building, and during a heavy shootout they just by a hair manage to escape and to reach their meeting point where now the merciless search for the traitor in their midst begins...
Kaante was the first film of the production house White Feather Films founded by Sanjay Dutt and his friend Sanjay Gupta, and for this ambitious debut project Sanju managed to gather some of his closest friends for a respectable and highly interesting star cast: living film legend Amitabh Bachchan (who never forgot that Sunil Dutt once had given him a big chance with the role of Chhotu in Reshma Aur Shera when Amitabh still was a newcomer in the film industry and who now with his role in Kaante could return this favour to Sunil’s son), director Mahesh Manjrekar (who had directed several movies starring Sanju, among others Vaastav and Hathyar), singer Lucky Ali and actors Kumar Gaurav (Sanju’s brother-in-law) and Suniel Shetty (one of Sanju’s best buddies). Especially Mahesh Manjrekar was a big surprise – who would have thought that this director is such a good actor too! Lucky Ali who at that time started to establish himself also in front of the camera in addition to his job as a playback singer, due to his role could not distinguish himself very much as sober-minded Mak mostly remained in the background. Even Kumar Gaurav who after his glorious teamwork with Sanju in Naam had made himself rather scarce on screen doesn’t attract too much attention, while Suniel Shetty at least has some exciting interactions with Sanjay.
Above all, however, the interest of course concentrates most on the two big stars Amitabh Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt. In the cool and stylish ambience of Sanjay, Suniel & Co, Amitabh sometimes looks like a foreign substance, but when he as Major wields his uncompromising authority then it’s really only Sanjay who can match up to him. As Ajju, he presents himself for the first time in a look and a role type he is cut out for and which he would extend and refine in upcoming films like Plan or Musafir: the cool macho gangster, one step further after his gorgeous bhais (not without reason he got the Bollywood Movie Critics Award and another Filmfare nomination as Best Supporting Actor for it). That Sanjay still possesses a considerable amount of sex appeal – maybe even more than ever before – he shows e.g. in the dance clips vitally belonging to these macho roles, be it Kaante’s "Ishq Samunder", Plan’s "Pyaar Aaya" or Musafir’s "Saaki Saaki". I don’t know when the term "Deadly Dutt" was invented for Sanjay, but at least after these clips you definitely know why.
A part of the credit for "Ishq Samunder" of course also goes to the authors (the song is simply hot), the choreographer and to Isha Koppikar who as item dancer in this number is a feast for the eyes as well as Malaika Arora as Marc’s girlfriend Lisa who, as she’s a night club dancer, also gets her chances to prove her dancing skills. But other than that, women have nothing to do in Kaante. This film belongs completely to the six men who plan their big coup singing "Rama Re" (with a refrain remarkably reminding of "Koi Na Koi" in Deewana) and "Chhod Na Re" but who finally founder on an undercover cop and on their mutual mistrust.
Kaante is no pop corn movie you enjoy while doing something else, it demands full concentration. But the film is worth it – because of the forceful final controversy between Amitabh and Sanjay, because of Sanjay’s overcool performance and because of his singing in "Rama Re" and "Chhod Na Re" (I simply adore his voice). And, of course, because of "Ishq Samunder".
Produced by Sanjay Gupta, Raju Sharad Patel, Pritish Nandy Communications Ltd.; Directed by Sanjay Gupta
143 Min.; DVD: T-Series, English Subtitles (including songs), partially very delayed
(Kria Inc. presents a Collector's Edition; here the film is running 151, including end credits 154 minutes; the Bonus DVD provides Deleted Scenes, TV Promos and Trailers, Songs and the Remix Song "Jaane Kya Hoga Rama Re".)
Hindustan Times: Top Gun