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The week of the wife-killer

ZIYA US SALAM

cinema



DRENCHED IN MEDIOCRITY: Suneel Darshan's "Barsaat", starring Bobby Deol with Priyanka Chopra (here) and Bipasha Basu, is old wine in a new bottle.

MY WIFE'S MURDER

(At Regal and other Delhi theatres)

He belongs to that endangered species - a hero who does not swear by a bullworker, a leading man who is neither a chocolate cream guy nor a muscleman who can take on a bunch of goons on a dark night and come out triumphant. And thank God for that! Thank God for an unusual actor like Anil Kapoor. When was the last time he delivered a hit on his own? Whom do you pair him with? The questions, some justified too, stare him down the barrel as Anil Kapoor takes the ultimate test at the box office.

This week, he attempts to do something he has not quite done in recent times - carry a film on his shoulders alone. What's more, this time he succeeds.

Yes, this debutant director Jijy Philip's film is a suspense story that moves on at a decent pace with a pointed narration. It keeps the viewers involved: whether the hero would be cornered for the murder of his wife, they wonder collectively. That the viewers stay on till the end despite seeing the hero committing the crime is a tribute to Anil Kapoor, now with more than a week's stubble on his aging chin.

His eyes portray a certain helplessness, his body language makes his anxiety more profound. And he gets good support from Nandana Sen, his secretary suspected of something more by the hero's wife. She is quite fetching. And Suchitra Krishnamurthy is suitably loud as the nagging wife. Not to forget Boman Irani as the investigator. He is a killer!

Watch this film for its honesty of approach. It is not the greatest offering from the Ram Gopal Varma School of Filmmaking - despite all its dark shadows, blues and tilted camera angles. But it is naturally absorbing in its understated way. Don't go looking for flowers here and you won't come back with thorns.

BARSAAT

(At Shiela and other Delhi theatres)

Ah! These deceitful purveyors of feminine charm! They beckon, we respond; they simmer, we are reduced to ash! There is a girl here - Bipasha Basu - for whom no poet would ever pen "Baharon phool barsao mera mehboob aaya hai... ." And why should one? She is not a dew-fresh beauty. She does not need to be - her charms are for the wee hours, when the sun is asleep, when the moon hides behind floating clouds. It is then she glows.

There is another girl - Priyanka Chopra - a girl with a waist so slender that if the breeze were accompanied by anything like a gust, she would be toppled. She too gets drenched under the rainfall. She too beckons, the most chivalrous, and the most adulterous of men!

Oh! Why should, we, helpless men, be attracted to them like moth to a flame! Why should we court death when all that lies in store is a fleeting delight? Nothing more.

And pray, why should they lead you on? All for a mediocre love triangle by Suneel Darshan? All for a film where the director promised a peep into the real life of girls in Punjab, girls who are brides for a fortnight, then forgotten by husbands enamoured of green bucks in the Wild West? And all that Darshan manages to deliver is a film that is a routine mushy story with dated music! We have Bobby as a confused man who has a childhood bride - yes, bride! - and a beloved from adulthood. While the wife simmers and prays - yawn, how many times have we seen whimpering wives! - the beloved falls all over him - yes, haven't we all seen the other woman and all her trademark tricks on the silver screen since childhood! The girls are ready with their curls and curves, the guy just appears lost, making you wonder if Bobby has grown even an inch as an actor since he made his debut in Rajkumar Santoshi's film by the same name.

Want to watch this one? A moth-eaten love triangle with all the stereotypes Bollywood survives on - a devoted wife with her karva chauth ki thali, the other woman with her mini-skirts, a joint family, songs, festivities. All that you and I have seen, initially admired, and are now probably retired from! Watch it if you relish the idea of taking a trip down familiar, if tiresome, lane. No shower of rejuvenation, this "Barsaat" is just drenched in mediocrity.

DARK WATER

(At PVR Saket and other Delhi theatres)

There is a line in the film that sums up the bargain you make when you pay up to watch this film. "Nine hundred dollars for a million-dollar view," says a real estate agent as Jennifer Connelly, here as a woman separated from her husband, prepares to move into an apartment. She does not get a million-dollar view in the film, far from it, but we get our money's worth in this film.

It is one horror story that does not get people screaming their lungs out, young women shrieking and men biting the tips of their fingers. It is elegant in its approach, quite plausible in its storyline and rich in symbolism. There is a woman who has moved into a downtown apartment with her child. Besides the challenges of a mundane existence, she has to contend with another problem - there is dark water leaking from her ceiling, there is dark water in her shank, in her bath! Everything is dark and dank - just like her life. Add to that the mother's childhood fears and the little girl's imaginary friends and you have a film that is emotionally engrossing.

Director Walter Salles's film is based on a Japanese thriller by Hideo Nakata. Expect no masterpiece here, just see a would-be master at work. And enjoy the film for its breezy storytelling and some good work by Connelly and company.

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