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"Kisna — The Warrior Poet"



"Kisna — The Warrior Poet" ... beautiful but untouched by true emotions and warmth.

MAGNIFICENT VISUALS, vast expanses of dramatic landscapes and a built-in sense of romance, gives "Kisna ... " a feel of the "Last Samurai," "Cold Mountain" and "The Last Emperor" genre. When the conceptualisation and visualisation have been so good, what happened to the soul and depth of the film? For, "Kisna ..." is just a beautiful picture — cold, untouched by true emotions and warmth. One could even say Subhash Ghai has a "Taal" hangover — but without an iota of the palpable romance that "Taal" had.

Lush Garhwal mountains, dancing springs and grassy slopes are a wonderful setting for a love story — innocent and young. Much of what he portrayed in "Taal." But in "Kisna ... ," he is apparently so carried away by the grandeur of his concept, that its true sensitivity gets lost — a typical case of great style over substance.

Kisna (Vivek Oberoi) tells the tale of a young man — a poet, but who would not hesitate to kill to honour a promise or to guard an innocent woman, foreign though she may be and an enemy at that!

Set in the days just before Independence in the mountainous region of Pauri Garhwal, Kisna is the young help in an English household. A good, kind lady of the house, a cruel, bigoted English official, Peter Becket, who is the master and their adorable daughter Katherine, for whom Kisna is the best friend.

There is also another very sweet girl, Luxmi, who loves Kisna, but is upset when he chooses to spend more time with Katherine.

Life goes on placidly — till the master realises that the more he allows his daughter to spend time in India the more she will become a native. She is sent to England to her aunt who will oversee her education and make her more British.

Meanwhile, Luxmi (Isha) has grown up to be a dramatic dancer who spends her time either in front of the idol of Krishna or swinging and contorting her body with great aesthetic appeal against the magnificent backdrop of the Himalayan range, all aglow withsunset colours.

Kisna is now a young man playing the flute, writing poetry and learning to defend himself against the hostile British. Katherine (Anthonia Bernath) decides to return to India. She is delighted to be back and is eager to renew her friendship with Kisna. She gets back her special place in Kisna's heart, and Luxmi makes sure that Kisna gets engaged to her.

This is also the time when the anger against the British is at its worst and soon turns ugly — the house in which Peter and his family live is burnt down and Peter is killed, while his wife and daughter are forced to flee.

In the process, mother and daughter get separated and Kisna becomes responsible for saving Katherine from a marauding crowd that includes his uncle (Amrish Puri) and brother.

Morally responsible for Katherine, Kisna has to find a way to get her to safety — to Delhi, escape the wrath of the police, his village people and other enemies along the long and tedious way. The tortuous path to safety is fraught with warring Hindu-Muslim spats and killings, a cruel but obsessed renegade Indian prince who is hell bent on having Katherine as his wife.

Set in the 1940s the film has a very historic feel (Camera - Ashok Mehta) to it. But that is really not enough to make an impact as there is very little you can empathise with. None of the characters really move you and while the canvas is extremely beautiful and poignant, their flight, the dangers don't really make a huge impact. A small scene with Sushmita Sen looking stunning just brings back the era of the luxuries of the Mughal court, but does little else. The background score or songs are not particularly noteworthy as it has been made out in the promos — both Ismail and Rahman have done better music before.

The choreography (Saroj Khan) however is spectacular especially in the songs that have been picturised on the village and the Nawab's court.

Vivek Oberoi looks very good but comes across as an insipid character. Isha Sharvani the new face is not much but her dance is eye-catching. And while on that, the dances are visually dramatic but do little for the story.

Anthonia Bernath has been showcased prominently before and after the release. While she is appealing, one can't say she is brilliant. It could be that most often she is made to speak her dialogue in Hindi which may be a necessity, but breaks the mood, if any.

CHITRA MAHESH

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