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‘Crew’: This Cast Deserves a Better Film

Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Kriti Sanon in Crew (2024). Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Kriti Sanon peeping from behind the luggage.
The characters played by Kriti Sanon (left), Kareena Kapoor Khan and Tabu peep from behind a hotel bell cart in a scene from the Bollywood film, ‘Crew’. (Source)

Director: Rajesh A Krishnan
Writers: Nidhi Mehra, Mehul Suri
Cast: Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Kriti Sanon, Diljit Dosanjh, Kapil Sharma, Rajesh Sharma, Saswata Chatterjee, Kulbhushan Kharbanda
Streaming On: In the movie theaters now, you will find it on Netflix soon.

Heist is a genre that everybody enjoys watching. It packs a promising combination of anti-capitalist themes, quirky characters and thrilling chase, plus it’s highly aspirational in nature. 

In Crew, the writers and the producers have consciously managed to cover all the major elements that make a good heist film, right from the plot and the characters to the stakes and the styling of the film. But the heist comes in too late. 

These girls have a lot going on for themselves

Drawing inspiration from the real-life tragedy of the Kingfisher Airlines collapse and its impact on the company’s staff, Crew weaves a narrative around three flight attendants navigating distinct phases of their lives and careers. Struggling with months of unpaid wages, they venture into smuggling as a desperate means to survive.

A few years back, we were treated to the dazzling spectacle of ‘Ocean’s 8’, where eight women from diverse backgrounds and walks of life united to execute one of the most audacious heists, all while making bold style statements. However, what set it apart was the significance of the characters and their compelling backstories. We needed to understand these women and what motivated them.

Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Kriti Sanon's characters planning a heist in the film Crew.
A scene from Crew showing the lead characters planning a heist. (Source)

In Crew, the attempt to emulate this dynamic falls short. The audience finds it difficult to invest in the characters’ narratives, such as one being a former pageant winner turned flight attendant, even after the film spends a considerable amount of time trying to make us familiar with these women and their pasts. The film could have gained momentum within the initial 30 minutes had they skipped the unnecessary backstories. It felt as if even the writers themselves were not very invested in these characters and their stories. 

The one-note characters, flimsy backstory and heavy censorship take away the fun of the film. The writers try and build some form of empathy for these unpaid flight attendants by giving us an emotional backstory for each of them. But is that really needed to make an enjoyable heist film where the only goal for these women is to claim what’s theirs and then a little more? 

Crew should learn from the best in business

Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Kriti Sanon in Crew looking distressed during their heist.
The three leads play wily flight attendants in the film. (Source)

In many respects, Crew brought to mind the Netflix series ‘Good Girls’ (which by the way is my favourite show depicting ordinary people engaging in mischievous activities). Let me know in the comments if you’ve seen Good Girls, or give it a try when you’re in the mood for a captivating heist story.

Crew is not about friendships. The heist starts with the need to look after one’s self. In the next stage of the heist, it becomes about the friends and peers. The friendship in Good Girls comes out more organic because these women were friends long before they started engaging in a heist. 

The motivation in both Crew and Good Girls is similar, but the latter only makes it more compelling. These are regular women living regular lives. The overarching theme of crime and convenience is the common element here. But the Netflix production makes it work with a balance of good storytelling, more creative and compelling ways of painting a picture in front of us. The show is very on-point in evoking sympathy towards the characters; it makes you feel like you’re part of the gang, like you’re in on a secret. 

Crew had an opportunity to evoke similar reactions from its audience, but it completely missed the mark. 

In Crew, the female friendship is more incidental. But I wonder how much the makers would’ve benefited from just skipping the sappy backstories. If only the writing in Crew was as on-point as the crew’s makeup and outfits. The women behind the planning and execution of the costumes and styling in the film deserve a special mention here. Manisha Melwani, Chandni Whabi, Meagan Concessio and Abhilasha Baweja helped the film keep up with the glam factor it promised.

But the writing barely shows any flavor, pretty much like the food that’s served 35,000 feet above. It makes the scenes and the actors playing them look desperate to dish out a laugh or two.

The most exciting casting coup I’ve seen in a while

The cast looks their ravishing best thanks to the film’s makeup and costume department. (Source)

Crew boasts a highly interesting cast — a mix of superstars, brilliant actors and highly underrated character actors. It is amusing to watch Tabu play Geeta Sethi, the older, wiser member of the trio. Kareena Kapoor Khan plays Jasmine, a true hustler who doesn’t shy away from grabbing what she likes and moving on. Kriti Sanon, as Divya Rana from Haryana, beautifully manages to hold her own in this trio alongside Tabu and Kareena. 

A Vogue cover shoot from the time when the film was announced. (Source)

Apart from these stunning ladies, we have extended cameos from two very charming men Diljit Dosanjh and Kapil Sharma, who could’ve added so much to the film but are not given much to do. Signing on such big icons in cameos is not a bad thing at all, but not giving them enough meat even in those few scenes is unfair. It is at once a waste of talent, charm and their acting chops.

The supporting cast boasts two wonderful performers, Diljit Dosanjh and Kapil Sharma. (Source)

But seeing Tabu and Kapil Sharma share screen as a couple gave me some hope. I want them together in another full-fledged film that just revolves around these two actors. 

Well-dressed women on a mission to nowhere

While watching the film, you realize that the film carries the weight of trying to be what it is expected to be, and it falls flat every time it tries to carry it forward. How else do you explain a waste of the casting coup?

From the styling to the music of the film, the creators ended up making Crew a rehash of all things exciting and amusing. The film makes use of three highly popular ’90s songs but it only appears as a crutch to the film. The rehashing doesn’t work because the creators dressed the film in a superbly glossy fashion but forgot to give it more flair and style.

The producers, Ekta Kapoor and Rhea Kapoor, arguably have given Bollywood its first female heist drama in Crew. (Source)

If you’re someone like me who likes to watch high-voltage stars have fun on screen, Crew is for you. Kudos to Rhea Kapoor and Ekta Kapoor for bringing in probably the first female heist film in Hindi cinema. These two women have over the years redefined women-centric films, trying to bring in the good stuff with the melodrama, with a little bling to boot, and making it a fun ride for the viewers. 

Give it a shot for the three stunning ladies, remix of some of the most popular bangers from the ’90s and the highly chic and aspirational costumes of the main cast.

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