MISSED FLIGHT

The comedy crew from Rajesh Krishnan’s aircraft heist takes a diversion and doesn’t arrive at its intended location.

These days, there aren’t many enjoyable things to see in Hindi films other than Tabu letting her hair down in a corny commercial masala flick. Burdened with the image of playing neurotic characters in films by Vishal Bhardwaj and Sriram Raghavan or starring opposite Ajay Devgan in films with questionable artistic merit (do they even deserve her?), Tabu has always deserved more opportunities to lip-sync in a Diljit Dosanjh music video. Alongside Kareena Kapoor Khan and Kriti Sanon both stars with decent acting chops Tabu completes the trio by bringing her assurance to the proceedings. It was one of the reasons why I was looking forward to Rajesh Krishnan’s Crew — a film primarily about middle class angst.
Krishnan’s film follows the lives of three flight attendants – Divya (Sanon), Geeta (Tabu) and Jasmine (Kapoor Khan) – employed by an airline modelled on Vijay Mallya’s Kingfisher Airlines.

The fictitious airline is called Kohinoor Airlines and the billionaire owner is called Vijay Walia (Saswata Chatterjee) – giving the impression that Krishnan and writers Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri were not trying hard to conceal their real-life inspiration.
The airline crew hasn’t been paid in over six months, with rumours of bankruptcy floating around. Things take a turn for the better (and worse) when a colleague dies mid-air, and the air-hostesses find gold biscuits strapped to his chest. With each of them enduring financial strife to varying degrees, the air hostesses are forced to consider abandoning their respective moral code.

Is it still rational to be virtuous in a world that is so intent on rewarding the twisted and cunning? This seems to be the central question for Crew.
Shall we all plunge into the abyss of avarice?
I was reminded of Sai Paranjpye’s Katha (1982) by this question. Similar class commentary may be observed in Krishnan’s directorial debut, Lootcase (2020), and in Raj & DK’s online series Farzi (2022).
The idea is brilliant, and Crew sails through its first part with little interruption. Things only become much more absurd and dull in the second part of the film.

The broad-stroke humour is mostly responsible for it, in contrast to writer Kapil Sawant’s Mumbai-based humour in Krishnan’s debut. The lack of cultural roots among the crew may be interpreted as an extension of a movie that primarily takes place in hotels, airport lounges, and/or aeroplanes.
However, there appears to be an additional issue with Kapoor Khan and Sanon’s too meticulous wardrobe department.
They wear nothing that feels anything like what a regular person would wear. Among the three, only Tabu’s character feels (even slightly) fleshed out. A former local pageant winner (Miss Karnal, we’re told), Tabu’s Geeta Sethi is the only one whose conflict holds water. Married to a former restaurateur-turned-cloud kitchen owner (played by Kapil Sharma), Geeta and her husband’s scenes are arguably some of the most unpretentious portions of the film.

Here, Sharma exhibits a more fluid performance compared to her more stilted Zwigato performance under Nandita Das.
Sharma’s character regrets that he was never able to provide much for his wife in a heartfelt moment.
A charming romantic scene features Sanon’s character Divya and Diljit Dosanjh’s character, Jaiveer, a recently hired customs inspector. The scene is effortlessly seductive. However, as today’s youth say, it’s all vibrations.
Conveniently, the track is left unfinished.

A lot of the problems in Crew stem from a bullet point-approach to filmmaking by Krishnan and Co, where each of the primary characters are given easily distinguishable and identifiable traits. One is an earnest class topper, one is a reckless and street-smart hustler, and one is the mother-figure among the three. Human beings are more complex, and too contradictory to be boxed into a handful of attributes.Additionally, unlike Lootcase, which was a fun ensemble comedy with excellent performances by Manuj Sharma, Vijay Raaz, Ranvir Shorey, and Gajraj Rao, Crew never quite works out as the ensemble movie it is intended to be.
The two ‘villains’ in this story, Rajesh Sharma and Saswata Chatterjee, receive very little development or amusing dialogue. The humour and observation needed to pull off this comedic caper are noticeably absent. The friendship never feels like it exists off-screen.