Ranjit Tiwari directed 'Lucknow Central' which is based on a real life story has delivered an astonishing musical prison film. The characters of the film are an aspiring asset to the story that revolves around the jail of Lucknow Central. The lead role of Kishan Girhotra's played by Farhan Akhtar is ambitious to become a renowned singer, but the dreams are broken as Kishan is falsely arrested for murdering an IAS officer in Moradabad. Proven guilty in the court hearings, a life imprisonment is announced for the crime he never did. Desiring freedom, with the passion of becoming a singer that needs to be applauded by many, Kishan gets a chance to prove himself when a music band competition for prisoners is announced in Lucknow Central on the glorified occasion of the Independence Day. Therefore, he starts gathering a bunch of prison inmates to participate in the music show with the help of a female NGO worker (Diana Penty) who becomes his voice to unveil the path of freedom. The heist of escaping the prison is thrilling with some soulful music on-screen.
Talking about the characters of the film right from Deepak Dobriyal who played a Bengali man, Victor Chattopadhyay is bang on with his role and so are the other supporting cast including Rajesh Sharma who plays Purushottam Madan Pandit a tailor from the jail, Liyakat Ansari played by Inaamulhaq who is a housekeeper, Gippy Grewal portrays a character Parminder Singh Gill who is an angry bearded Sardar and Ravi Kishan as Pawan Singh Chaturvedi a powerful political social media savvy UP minister, threatening his officers to demotion by comparing their uniform colours to traffic police. Ronit Roy who is a strict jailer in the film is actually an alarming officer, eyeing the newly formed band's move inside out. While Diana Penty performed a pretty graceful NGO authority working things out with this contemporary event.
The songs of the film keep you attached with the ongoing scenes. In fact, music is what made the film earned a star more from the critics. 'Rangdaari' performed by Arjit Singh is right at the start of the film displaying cast credentials and introducing Farhan Akhtar's music driven local lad character onscreen. Composed by Arjunna Harjaie with the beautiful lyrics by Kumaar, the song connects you with the character right away from the start. The next song 'Baki Rab Pe Chhod De' performed by Brijesh Shandilya and composed by Tanishk Bagchi has some crazy beats with motivational lyrics describing the escape plan scenes of the inmates from the band. While the next song 'Teen Kabootar' by performed by Mohit Chauhan, Divya Kumar adding on few rap verses by Raftaar composed by Arjunna Harjaie. It is a special song that had no musical instrument but daily life household equipments used for its composition. 'Meer-e-Kaarwan' performed by Amit Mishra and Neeti Mohan is the most sentimental song with narrative scenes where these four prisoners get out on parole to meet their loved ones, but are degraded down from the taunts of society and now they have lost every hope in life after coming back to prison heart broken. The Monsoon Wedding remake song 'Kaavaan Kaavaan' is a stellar rock performance by Kishan and his band members in the end. Performed by Sukhwinder Singh and composed by Arjuna Harjaie with lyrics by Kumaar, this climax song is absolutely enjoyable.
The art directors along with the creative department have put forth an outstanding effort in creating the catchy authentic looking Lucknow Central Jail sets which were used for the shoots for 40 long days. In an interview with Film Companion director Ranjit Tiwari said that he could have preferred the real regular prison but then it could have minimised the liberty of time and shooting with retakes as well. Cinematography by Tushar Kanti Ray is simple yet effective by covering the grand set of the film with his innovative vision redefining simplicity by capturing the scenes with regular cinematic shots. The only drawback in the film is its continuity which displays certain flaws from the film. The band performances in the end, are completely ripped off with clear lip-syncs while the songs choices are weird as well picking up 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' songs. Whereas the true event story is said to take place in around 2007. The minister taking the name of Donald Trump in his joke when he wasn't the president of America.
Well, such flaws are absolutely forgiven when the film conveys a meaningful message and that's what Lucknow Central did.