Okay, I'm kidding with that title. While the ishtyle of Kaminey actually does owe something to Guy Ritchie and Tarantino, it is definitely Vishal Bhardwaj's own vision and execution.
Charlie (Shahid Kapoor, of course) is a low-level thug who fixes horse races for upper-level thugs the Bengali brothers--and thrashes those who don't fall in line with the fix. The youngest of the Bengalis, cokehead Mikhail, is Charlie's best friend. He's fierce, fearless, practically amoral--and a lisper, replacing "s" with "f." His greatest ambition is to own his own gambling operation. Oh, yeah, and he hates his twin brother.
Guddu (Shahid Kapoor, of course) works for an NGO, which I assume is a non-profit organization? Anyway, the point of his job is to raise awareness about AIDS prevention and safe sex. We meet him dancing in a red-light district, handing out condoms to hookers and bouncing beneath a red scarf like the rest of his co-workers. This activity (the only time we see him really dancing in the film, which is a shame) is interrupted by Sweety (Priyanka Chopra), who has come to tell him she's pregnant. They both are stutterers, instantly endearing in their initial exchange of recriminations and flailing about for the right course of action.
Of course, what Guddu doesn't know is that the baby, and a shotgun wedding, is the least of his problems. Sweety is the little sister of a sociopathic gangster, Bhope Bhau (Amol Gupte), who's running for elected office. If his sister marries someone who's not a native of Mumbai, he's screwed.
Meanwhile, Charlie's work for the Bengali brothers mixes him up in a drug deal run by Bhope. The fallout from his involvement and Sweety's pregnancy will bring to the two brothers back into each others' lives.
Kaminey, to me, is the best of all worlds. It's tightly plotted, has hilarious dialogue (and excellent subtitling, by the way), is well-edited, and well-shot. (The only production drawback, from my point of view, is the conspicuous lack of in-sync sound. I don't care if you loop your dialogue, but at least do us all a favor and don't make it sound like your actors are sitting in a box when they're out on the street.) However, it's also a specifically Indian story, with internal politics and machinations that can be difficult to decipher (although judging by the reviews I'd say it's impenetrable for almost everyone during the first third). For instance, I have no way of judging accents, etc. but what I could comprehend added up to a very authentic telling of a pretty outrageous tale.
A great deal's already been said about Shahid's performances in this film, but I'll go ahead and add my two cents. (Oh, right, like you ever thought I wouldn't!) He succeeds in creating two completely different men onscreen. Not only that, but he brings an intensity and focus to his portrayals that I haven't seen him evidence before, although I always believed he was capable of it. He shines especially in the scenes where the two brothers share the screen. I actually forgot at the time that they were both him.
Priyanka's Sweety is also proof positive that the girl can act, given proper direction. Utterly de-glammed, desperate, manipulative, and forceful, Sweety is the kind of character--like many in the movie--who balances the thin line between sympathetic and appalling. She probably got pregnant on purpose, but that doesn't mean she doesn't love Guddu, and she sets out to prove it in the fiercest ways possible.
Of course, there's also a large, diverse supporting cast. I enjoyed the unfamiliar faces and realistic performances and hope to see them all again. Then there's the soundtrack, which is fun if too short. (I really think that, had "Pehli Baar Mohabbat" been left in, Sweety would have been entirely appealing.) The one thing that's missing, as Filmi Girl pointed out in her review, is a deep emotional hook. However, I'm willing to take Kaminey as it is and declare it worth every penny.
On the housekeeping front: I've changed my comments to moderated only. Anyone who's a regular reader can probably figure out why! And if you'd like to check out my new Bollywood snark blog, it's here.
ETA: The comments now contain spoilers, so be aware. :-)