About the story: Sonia (Minissha Lamba), daughter to arrogant Vikrant Raina (Sanjay Dutt), India’s richest man who has been living in the USA and separated from his family since ten years, is kidnapped by Kabir Sharma (Imran Khan). Kabir insists in negotiating her fate only with Vikrant himself. Vikrant is astonished to hear that the kidnapper doesn’t want money; instead he orders Vikrant to accomplish several tasks of which each one will earn him a clue which brings him nearer to Sonia. While security specialist Irfan (Rahul Dev) tries to track down the kidnapper and Sonia’s mother Mallika (Vidya Malavade) and grandmother (Remaa Lagoo) can do nothing but wait, Vikrant realizes soon that there must be a link between him and the kidnapper...
Sanjay Gadhvi had been planning this movie for many years – actually before he became famous as the Dhoom director. That he couldn’t make Kidnap earlier was due to Sanjay Dutt whom Gadhvi absolutely wanted to play the lead but who, when offered the role of the autocratic billionaire for the first time, was booked till 2004 and could give him no dates. Only in the beginning of 2007 Gadhvi was able to start his dream project. Profiteer of this delay was young Imran Khan whom Gadhvi now signed for his movie before Imran made his sensational debut with Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. So in a way, it was a sort of Mission Kashmir déjà vu for Sanjay: Again he was casted against a newcomer who, while shooting for their film, became the flavour of the moment after his debut film and thus finally got more attention than Sanjay himself. But once again, Sanjay didn’t care about that and willingly took the back seat, leaving the advantage to his young colleague who was raving about Sanjay’s support and kindness.
The production, however, suffered a major setback midway through when Sanjay was sentenced and jailed in July 2007; shooting had to be stalled for several months, and no one knew whether and when they could continue. When Sanjay finally got bail he first completed EMI and then Kidnap. So similar to Mahaanta in the 90’s, Kidnap too was made before and after a prison term of Sanjay – even though this time the way Sanjay changed was not as crass as in Mahaanta where the break had lasted two years and Sanjay had been in radiant top form before his arrest. In Kidnap it is obvious from the first to the last minute that the film has been made in a time of brutal crisis for Sanjay; the months of painful waiting for his sentence and his time in jail took their toll on him. Not even in his worst drug days in the 80’s Sanjay had appeared on screen as overweight and in some scenes obviously tired as in Kidnap.
And yet, Sanjay is good in Kidnap, even though he not longer does all his action scenes himself. As the arrogant billionaire asshole he is convincing, likewise as the worried and caring father who is ready to do everything for his daughter. Sanjay Gadhvi said in an interview that he decided to cast Sanjay as Vikrant Raina when he saw him in the TV show Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai communicating with his daughter Trishala who lived separated from him in the USA – Gadhvi was impressed by the longing, caring and love in Sanjay’s eyes. Sanjay on the other hand often imagined on the sets how he would feel or react were it his daughter Trishala who was kidnapped. So in the end, he managed to deliver an insistent interpretation of his character, in spite of his problems and in spite of the deplorable weaknesses the script unfortunately has.
Nevertheless – and though pretty soon you know about the link between Vikrant and Kabir – Kidnap all in all is a thrilling movie because many twists cannot be foreseen and because you wonder all the time how far this father will go to save his daughter, for Kabir demands him to commit several crimes including murder. Obviously Imran Khan had fun doing the bad-boy role but even his performance, like Sanjay’s, was so-so. In emotional scenes he still lacks a lot (especially when you see Sanjay by his side who just shakes with emotions). But there’s no doubt that this young man (who happens to be Aamir Khan’s nephew) is very talented and we hopefully will see more of him in the future.
Beside Rahul Dev (solid) and Reema Lagoo (wasted) the focus was also on the two leading ladies Malavade and Lamba. Many critics carped about Vidya looking to young to be Minissha’s mother, but in my opinion the problem is more Minissha’s fault who looks a bit too old for an 18-years-old (despite her bikini figure) and even does not always act convicing. So the just a few years older Vidya convinces me more as the independent and elegant young mother. The scene where she and Sanjay come closer together again and even kiss for a moment was taken out by Gadhvi shortly before the release and though he assured that the scene would be included in the DVD version, it wasn’t. Too bad as it is a moving little scene (it was to be seen in the verion shown in German cinemas) which does no harm to the film’s dramaturgy.
At the box office, Kidnap became an unexpected flop. Many people found the film boring – an opinion I cannot share. Okay, Kidnap is no masterpeace but it’s entertaining and partially really thrilling. And though Sanjay’s performance is far away from his best ones, he still has two special scenes which alone ensure that I’d never want to miss this film. First there is his scene with Imran at the crucifix – just watch the loads of emotions working in Sanjay’s face! And second, there ist this scene where Sanjay, cold as ice and merciless as stone, condemns a young man: "I'll make sure he's never bailed out... He deserves to be put behind bars... He has committed a crime and he is a criminal!" I don’t dare to imagine what Sanjay must have felt speaking this words with his own sentence, incarceration and branding as a criminal in mind! The production banner Shree Ashtavinayak must have had similar thoughts as, shortly before the release, it thanked Sanjay in an unusual open letter (in form of an ad in the Times of India) for everything he hade done for Kidnap in spite of his enormous personal problems at the time of the production.
Produced by Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd; Directed by Sanjay Gadhvi
142 Min.; DVD: Indian Films, English Subtitles (including songs); Special Features: Mit Jaaye Remix, Making Of Kidnap