‘UT 69’ REVIEW | 3 November, 2023

AA Films, SVS Studios and The Bigger Picture Films’ UT 69 (UA) is the story about Shilpa Shetty’s businessman-husband, Raj Kundra’s period in jail as an undertrial in the porn videos case.

The story, written by Raj Kundra, concentrates only on protagonist Raj Kundra’s time in Arthur Road (Bombay) jail for two months till he gets bail. However, Kundra assumes that the viewers are all aware of the alleged crime for which he was imprisoned as the story doesn’t explain that. There are cursory mentions of the same but no explicit attempt to establish the reason why he is imprisoned. In that sense, the story is incomplete and lopsided. Vikram Bhatti’s screenplay gets depressing almost as soon as the drama begins. It may not be everyone’s idea of entertainment to see the appalling condition of India’s jails and the way undertrials in the country are treated. While Bhatti has tried to infuse comedy into the otherwise depressing and morose story, the fact remains that at the core, it is a film which talks more about and shows hopelessness and despair. Scenes of filthy toilets and other toilet scenes, of the state of the rooms, of the behaviour of some of the undertrials, etc. make the audience feel repulsed more than sorry or sympathetic towards the undertrials. Even the humour may evince a few smiles but that’s just not enough. Shahnawaz Ali, Vikram Bhatti, Nipun Barua and Mousam Gupta’s dialogues are hard-hitting only at places.

Raj Kundra is not an actor and so does an average job as himself. The good thing is that his performance is uninhibited. Errol Rodrigues is natural as the lawyer. Mahadev Jadhav does a fine job as police inspector Mahadev Dandekar. Anand Alkunte has his moments as police inspector Prasad Sutar. Sadanand Patil makes his presence felt in the role of Maharaj. Kumar Saurabh leaves a mark as Ashraf. Ganesh Deokar is good as Amar. Mahesh Ghag makes a fine impression as Jacob. Vinod Suryavanshi is effective as Gollu. Gaurav Mishra is natural as Sushil. Shilpa Shetty’s voice acting is probably the best performance in the film.

Shahnawaz Ali’s direction is not too impressive. The narration simply states the obvious as everybody is aware of the deplorable state of our jails and of the inhuman treatment meted out to undertrials. Ali’s direction doesn’t neither say anything more than that nor moves the audience emotionally. Kevin Jason Crasta’s cinematography is appealing. Neeraj Kumar’s production designing is appropriate. Shahnawaz Ali’s editing is quite crisp.

On the whole, UT 69 has bleak commercial prospects as it is not an emotional journey and also does not have any face value.

Released on 3-11-’23 at Metro Inox (daily 2 shows) and other cinemas of Bombay by AA Films. Publicity: so-so. Opening: poor. …….Also released all over. Opening was weak everywhere.