'Setters' Review: Manages to tell a compelling tale backed by extensive research

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Ashwini Chaudhary’s Setters revolves around a high profile cheating racket operating across the country. They do everything from leaking papers to forging thumb impressions to all kinds of hi-tech stuff. Just think of the cheating in Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. and multiply it by 1000. And they do it for all kinds of exams: railway, medical, engineering, banking, teaching, etc. Of course, the professional charges vary depending on the prestige associated with a given job. During an early scene when one of the parents complains that an amount of 15 lakh is outrageously high for securing a top berth in the Banking PO exam, Bhaiya Ji, the ruthless kingpin of the cheating racket, is quick to remind him, “The ‘O’ in Bank PO means officer.”

YouTube review of Setters for The Delhi Daily

At another level, Setters is also a story of two friends, Aditya and Apurva, hailing from Benares. While Aditya cracks the Civil Services exam to become an IPS officer, Apurva, unable to clear it, joins the racket run by Bhaiya Ji. So throughout the film the two friends, on opposite sides of the law, are also involved in a game of one-upmanship at a personal level. Unlike Why Cheat India, Setters chooses to take a procedural approach in that it exposes us to the intricacies with which these cheating rackets operate.

While Setters is essentially a crime thriller, the film benefits from a very strong comical touch. Consider a scene wherein a lady at an airport seeing the way a man is dressed asks her husband to talk to him in Hindi instead of English. The man overhearing the conversation retorts, “Is there a rule that if you fly business you can’t wear a lungi?” It’s conversations like these that pep up Setters every time the plot gets a bit heavy. This has been an old tradition as far as Hindi cinema is concerned and perhaps that’s why we have produced so many legendary actors with great comic timings over the years. But in the recent decades we haven’t been able to keep up. But fortunately we still have many actors whose comic timings are impeccable. One such actor is Vijay Raaz. Essaying a character called Nizam, his full range of acting skills is on display in Setters.
In fact, the performances are solid all around. While Pavan Malhotra is chilling as Bhaiya Ji, it is Shreyas Talpade who surprises with his impeccable Eastern UP accent, delivering one of his career best performances. Sonnalli Seygall effortlessly plays a no nonsense cop who is not afraid to rough up men in her custody. Also, it is heartening to see Aftab Shivdasani try out new things at a crucial juncture in his career. Another actor who deserves a special mention is Jameel Khan who is superb in the role of a hot-headed cop. Barring a few hiccups, Setters manages to tell a compelling tale that’s well backed up by an extensive research conducted by veteran filmmaker Ashwini Chaudhary who yet again succeeds in demonstrating his command over the cinematic medium.
Rating: 6/10
A version of this review was first published in The Sunday Guardian.

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