Lootere Review: A Gripping Thriller

Hotstar’s latest show, Lootere, will take you to the murky world of Somalia, where crime is the order of the day and law and order have taken a convenient backseat. The show is about Somalian pirates (no, they aren’t as goofy as Captain Jack Sparrow) who otherwise live pitiful lives. It is reportedly based on the true incident of 2017 when an Indian ship was similarly hijacked on Somalian waters by pirates.

The first scene of Lootere gives a preview of what comes along thrill, adventure, cat and mouse chase, tons of action sequences, and lots of adrenaline rush. A lot of local Somalians are running towards the shore, some of whom have ammunition. It seems like they are all going on a mission. The captivating background music adds to the urgency that the makers are trying to create.

The first main character we meet is Vikrant (Vivek Gomber), an Indian businessman who has spent all his life in Somalia and is yet standing at the receiving end of discrimination and hatred from the localities. Before you start sympathising with him, it is worth mentioning that there might be other reasons for it as well: he is the President of the port organisation and has many illegal activities going under his wing. This is, of course, besides the fact that he is a money-minded asshole who has somewhat gotten his emotional fuse dismantled. He strongly relies on the philosophy of his father-in-law (from whom he has inherited his illegal business empire) that it is better to be a king in hell than a servant in heaven.

Vikrant is contending for the presidency of the port and needs lots of funds to lure the votes and clear his loans. One such piggy bank that he is relying on is the Ukrainian ship which is bringing an illegal consignment to Sonalia’s Mogadishu for him. The ship has 13 crew members, including the savage Captain (Rajat Kapoor), a Pakistani crewmate, and two women – one of whom is pregnant.

As the information of illegal consignment on the ship goes out, Vikrant’s enemies get ready to get this reported so that the ship is inspected on reaching Mogadishu, leading to Vikrant’s presidency being nulled.

One of Vikrant’s partners offers the unique solution of getting the ship hijacked and retrieving the priceless consignment midway before it reaches the enemies: an offer Vikrant agrees to without even listening to the entire plan.

Thus, kickstarts a series of thrilling sequences.

Lootere Review: Nuanced Performances by the Cast

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Vivek Gamber plays a corrupt Indian businessman in Somalian waters

Lootere’s cast has done an impressive job. I particularly liked Rajat Kapoor’s ship Captain. Although there wasn’t much scope for emotional diversity to explore, he nailed the parts of a leader who knows how to keep his team calm under distress. His character also knew how to shoot subtle sarcasm, even with pirates jumping around.

Vivek Gomber and Amruta Khanvilkar’s performances are also worth noting. While Amruta’s character will make you appreciate her bravery, Vivek will make you feel all kinds of emotions: anger, hatred, frustration.

However, Martial Batchamen Tchana’s role stole the show for me. His character had a surprising moral compass and calm composure, even though he is a pirate. It brings a respite from the otherwise comical representation of foreign actors in commercial Indian films and shows.

It would have been very easy to screw the show with fake accents and incorrect casting, but the makers have scored well in that area.

Lootere Review: A Refreshing Change for Indian OTT

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Lootere can be streamed in seven Indian languages on Hotstar

While there are plenty of crime thrillers, just a few of them have dared to explore beyond the hinterlands or overdone backdrop of the USA and Europe. Lootere brings a refreshing change in the form of a Somalian backdrop with an interesting premise of pirates. Some might even call it an African counterpart of the Uttar Pradesh or Bihar-based crime shows.

The show gives a closer look at the lawlessness of the region and the mayday situation that persists in this African nation. While the chances of civil war have been casually mentioned in the show, makers haven’t dug deeper into that territory. However, Lootere is still likely to invoke curiosity in viewers regarding the actual socio-political scenario of Somalia. There is a scene where young kids are being trained in a pirate camp, and they are then kidnapping other children into camp recruitment.

Another scene of Somalian touch which grabbed my attention is of an organised dog fight where people are cheering and rooting for the canines to defeat the other.

Lootere Review: Final Verdict

Lootere is somewhat new territory for the Indian digital space and even cinema, which means fewer cliches. It is a good attempt by Jai Mehta, who is donning the directorial hat for the first time.

Lootere has all the ingredients of a good thriller and is likely to make your heart pounce in a bunch of scenes. The background score deserves special mention. The composers have struck just the perfect chord with music: I particularly enjoyed the Somalian notes.

The show has beautifully captured how humans desperately cling to every sliver of hope when their lives are thrown into danger, from trying to attack without a game plan to trying to side with the enemy.

The perspective of the poor pirates of Somalia is also an interesting concept to ponder. Even though they are the ones putting everyone at gunpoint, the makers haven’t forgotten to mention their plight and how they feel unattended by the government. Is rather amusing to see the pirates making humanly mistakes while executing their mission.

Another notable point the show captures is the shortcomings of the corrupt administration and the resultant inefficiency. Unfortunately, I can’t disclose much in this context without giving away spoilers!

All in all, Lootere is a decent crime thriller worth a watch.

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