Aathva Khoon Maaf!


If I were to go by Tweeple’s reviews, I should have patiently waited for my DVD copy but we’re talking about Vishal Bharadwaj here…the maverick who gave us extraordinary movies like Makdee, Maqbool, Omkara and the recent Kaminey. I wanted to judge the movie myself and a lesson learnt…don’t ignore the vox populi; esp on Twitter!


There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Ruskin Bond’s story, Susanna’s Seven Husbands on which the film is based – offers a perfect plot for a dark comedy & thriller. You couldn’t have asked for a better cast with Priyanka Chopra playing Susanna Anna-Marie Johannes, her six husbands played by some of the finest actors (including Irrfan Khan and Naseeruddin Shah). But what goes missing murder after murder is the magic Vishal cleverly weaves into his scripts – the ease with which he explores the intricacies of emotions, the leisurely pace with which he unfolds the plot and the perfection with which he defines and extracts the character he wants sketched on screen.


The film opens with the shot of Susanna shooting herself followed by a package delivered to a forensic expert Arun (played by Naseerudin Shah’s son Vivaan Shah). Arun’s hard task is to prove that Susanna is indeed dead. And we begin to revisit Susanna’s past through the voice of Arun (Susanna was his Memsaab and Arun her Sugar). Most part of the story set in Pondicherry, Susanna’s story starts with her father’s death and her marriage to a langda army officer (Neil Nitin Mukhesh). She has to deal with his insecurity and arrogance which reaches unbearable heights when he blinds Goonga (Susanna’s favourite jockey) in one eye. I could sympathize with her first murder when she throws Neil to a man-eating panther.


And then follow the serial-murders of a drug addict self-acclaimed rockstar (John Abraham, poetic-yet-brute lover (Irrfan Khan), a two-timing and a Russian spy a pathetic Hindi accent (during which Arun’s packed off to Russia to finish his studies), desperate-for-sex aging police officer (Annu Kapoor) and finally a bankrupt Bong pharmacist (Naseeruddin Shah).


The how of these murders are quite predictable but the why is not so evident. Was she a serial-killer? Didn’t look like. Was her love for her Sugar (Arun) that drove her to murder these imperfect men? Perhaps. Her butler offers a feeble explanation – that Susanna never believed in taking an alternate path if things didn’t work in her favour but just knocks out whoever comes her way.


There is no room for suspense and if these questions weren’t enough, her 7th husband leaves with you a “That does it!” expression! At a press conference in Berlin (at the 61st International Film Festival) Vishal is believed to have said that he, quite by accident, learnt that nuns are “married” to Jesus Christ. And this knowledge helped him work out the film’s ending. I wish he didn’t and he stuck to what he did best!


And on this happy note, I shall patiently wait for his next flick!


(Todd Tucker, Hollywood special make-up effects artist who’s created the different looks for Priyanka Chopra’s role in this film deserves a special mention. Brilliant job done!)


Rating: 2.5/5


Is it worth watching? Yes


-Padmaja Nagarur

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Someone Killed Jessica


The official trailer was out there for anyone to bite and I did too. Two talented actors and one powerful plot....how wrong could it go! A hybrid of fact and fiction, Rajkumar Gupta (after his promising debut film Aamir) narrates the story of two women with the Jessica Lal murder as the background. The director did justice to the extent that he managed to draw some great performances from Rani Mukherjee, Vidya Balan and Rajesh Sharma.


Strongly backed by Amit Trivedi’s background score, the film manages to keep you entertained through out barring some gimmicky scenes - esp the ones where purportedly the then President Kalam accepts public sms’s in support of Jessica and Manmohan Singh delivers a speech. Rajesh Sharma who plays the role of the cop handling the case does well in expressing frustration at the system’s inefficiency and elitist hypocrisy. Vidya consistently keeps the character believable with her appearances completely stripped of all the excesses. While Rani’s performance is among her best, there seems to be confusion in the overall character sketch - she talks like a bitch but doesn’t quite act like one; she wants to be associated with the biggest stories in media and shuns the Jessica Lal’s murder case but is suddenly bothered about justice being denied when the murderer walks away scot free. It leaves me wondering if she was genuinely interested in correcting the wrong done or she could foresee the potentially big story she was going to be a part of.


Overall there were, no doubt, some tears (or more of a sniff!), some anger and giggles. But the movie left me wanting something more - rave reviews followed but I came out disappointed - was I the only one? Was I becoming a loathsome cynic?


Luckily, I laid my hands on Rang De Basanti for the nth time and found my answers. Not very often do you come across films which spark an inspiration - Rang De Basanti’s candle march and Lage Raho Munnabhai’s Gandhigiri (incidentally both were 2006 releases). RDB was fiction but made us question our indifference towards everything that goes on around us. It inspired us enough to believe in the power of few to raise our voices against the power. And what hurt was the fact that “No one killed Jessica” had the potential of rekindling those emotions and driving the power of people yet again! Unfortunately, it does nothing more than be acknowledged with some good reviews and hopefully a couple of awards. I fear there’s another film in the making with the recent Aarushi case which will serve only as a good plot and nothing more.


- Padmaja Nagarur


Rating: 2.5/5

Is it worth watching: Maybe..but just once

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