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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