The author sees Kaminey as marking a new trend in Bollywood- the celebration or even glorification of criminality:
Urban criminals, until the mid-1990s, were not glamorous figures in Hindi popular cinema, and only people led astray (as in Deewar 1975) became criminals. The film that changed this was perhaps Ram Gopal Varma’s Satya (1999). Satya appeared “realistic” but had a discourse interpretable in the context of the economic liberalisation initiated by P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh in 1991-92, which also marked the end of Nehruvian socialism. Law enforcement has been treated in different ways by Hindi cinema but Satya was the first film to treat the police as though they were no different from a private agency, made stronger by their indifference to the law.In other words, the film takes the line that not only do you get away with flouting the law, it is almost a condition for success in the world. To do otherwise is to be pretty dumb. Only a complete disregard for law and scruple can produce success. It's painful, I guess, to see this portrayed but is the reality very different?
......There are key dissimilarities between Satya and Kaminey and the chief among these is that while in Satya there was still a world outside the underworld, in Kaminey the underworld is the world and it would appear that everyone is somehow implicated in criminality.
The author highlights the fact that the movie has been more successful in urban areas than elsewhere and that it has been better received in theEnglish media than in the language press. He interprets this to mean that its values are more reflective of those of the middle and upper classes than the lower classes. He links the decline in values to the way economic reforms have been pursued:
Even if one concedes that freeing the economy from the shackles of control was a good thing, it would have been appropriate at that point to strengthen enforcement in areas where intervention was still necessary. This, unfortunately, did not happen and India today is an enforcement nightmare. But it is apparently a nightmare that allows certain classes to dream.What gets the author's goat is the portrayal of the law enforcement agencies:
The portrayal of the law in Kaminey is unprecedented in Indian cinema. The anti-narcotics squad functions as the handmaiden of drug-runners and when the police arrive at the final exchange, the criminals due to be “arrested” announce on the street their open offers to the men in khaki – 25% of the take increasing gradually to 33% – and thereby make the police waver. This is far more extreme than even Satya because policemen in Kaminey are only acting for themselves, and not even nominally engaged in enforcing the law.Again, just a case of cinema mirroring life, uh? To those who think Bollywood is being a trifle too cynical, I would say this: Bollywood caught up with gangster politicians and the nexus between politics and crime long before the rest of the media did. It does seem to me that Vishal Bharadwaj, the director, has his finger on the pulse of reality.