Wikipedia defines caper films as those heist films where an intricate plot is woven around a group of people trying to steal something and that plot has prominent comic elements to it. Sadly most of the Indian films churned by filmmakers have failed to deliver on this count and at the same time this is one genre, which is favourite among their Hollywood brethrens. It′s always the romance, comedy and action that have ruled the roost. The experiments have never been bothered about. Despite being well versed in stealing plots and getting "inspired" from Hollywood, the caper genre remains largely untouched by Indian filmmakers. Few films of this genre, which were attempted, either went on to assume cult proportion or were acclaimed by most cine-goers.
JAANE BHI DO YAARON (1984)
The film which tops the caper genre, is undoubtedly Kundan Shah′s cult classic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron. The story of two budding photographers captivated the attention of all. The plot had everything to it which a caper film demands - the crime angle supported by Satish Shah, Pankaj Kapoor and Om Puri, humour by Naseeruddin Shah, Ravi Baswani and Satish Kaushik and the sub plots of the film were provided by Bhakti Barve. Made on a shoestring budget with support from the now dysfunctional NFDC, it catapulted all the actors in a different league altogether. The only one from the team who found the going tough was the director as it took eight long years for him to find a producer for his next film, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. Not many are aware of the fact that the initial length of the film ran more than four hours and it was only after the editing techniques employed by late Renu Saluja that the film was made into a crisp two-hour flick.
EK CHALIS KI LAST LOCAL (2007)
Sanjay Khanduri′s brilliant Ek Chalis Ki Last Local is another film, which failed miserably at the box office, but people woke up to its potential only after it was packed off from cinema halls. The one night story of Abhay Deol and his various escapades with Mafiosi, prostitutes and policemen made excellent fodder for the caper genre. The film also brought to light the true potential of Abhay Deol, which later on was sealed by films like Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Dev D.
JOHNNY GADDAR (2007)
Sriram Raghavan′s Johnny Gaddar too falls in the same bracket. The story of four guys, partner-in-crime, led by Garam Dharam kept viewers riveted to their seats. A who-done-it plot woven around a booty of 50 lakhs witnessed few murders, thrilling moments, double crosses and last but not the least Dharmendra in his own imitable style mouthing "It′s not about age, it′s all about mileage".
Parwana was a flick that was released in the year 1971 and the phenomenon called Amitabh Bachchan was yet to take shape. The intricate plot aptly handled by director Jyoti Swaroop gave Indians the first taste of a caper film. The murder plot woven by the doyen of film industry brought awe to people and for the first time experienced the chill of a plot that was hatke and experimental.
TEESRI MANZIL (1966)
This was one film, which catapulted all the people associated with the film to stardom. The film was a true musical thriller in every aspect. The roller coaster ride after a woman has been thrown off from the third floor of a building and all enjoyed the mystery that follows later. The sensual score by R. D. Burman and the apt direction of Vijay Anand is still remembered by the modern generation.
The state of affairs of such films only goes on to prove that caper films in Bollywood are far and few between, not much of attention and detailing has been given to this genre blame it on the intricacies in the plot involved which might not be Bollywood′s cup of tea. On the contrary the entire career of filmmakers like Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino is punctuated with such films. Pulp Fiction, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Revolver, Reservoir Dogs are some of the shining examples. The popularity of these films can be judged by the fact that almost all these films went on to assume cult proportions.
One reason why Bollywood failed to make such films could be attributed to the fact that the pressure of churning hits one after the other has been so high on the shoulders of Indian producers that they opted for the safe bet of making films from straight genre which includes comedies, action and romance. But with the advent of filmmakers like Shriram Raghavan, Navdeep Singh , Vishal Bharadwaj the scenario has undergone a sea change. They have the ability to take risk and rather than being driven by market forces they are more driven by passion and a burning desire to tell a story that is yet to be explored.
Now all hopes are pinned on Vishal Bharadwaj′s Kaminey (Read Vishal′s interview on Kaminey). The plot revolving around twin brothers who hate to see sight of each other falls perfectly in the caper genre. The presence of more than 25 supporting characters gives another dimension to the film. The genre has been there in Bollywood for more than 35 years, hope Kaminey revives and catapults it as a popular genre.