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Friday, September 28, 2001

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Film Review: Ajnabee


CAST FOUR youngsters, shoot in scenic Switzerland and mesmerising Mauritius, add a dash of pulsating music, weave all these into a murder mystery and you have a hit on your hands. That's the time- tested formula being tried again by Abbas-Mustan, who have been a force to reckon with in Bollywood ever since "Baazigar" came up trumps. Will they make it this time too with "Ajnabee" which was released this past week? Well, from the response of the early cinegoers they are unlikely to walk away with a super-duper hit under their belt but the viewers who venture to see this whodunit tale won't be too disappointed. Only a trifle, for occasionally the pace tends to slacken and the plot gets a shade convoluted.

"Ajnabee" on paper is a saga of spouse-swapping. We have two couples enjoying the passionate shower of youth. They blow hot and cold, get the hots under a snowfall, go cold when the appeal leads to allurement. There are two women, each more enticing than the other. And two men blessed with a roving eye and flexibility of scruples. They are the best of friends who turn foes. First, when the suggestion of sleeping with the neighbour's wife is mooted. Then, when the inevitable happens. Then... The neighbour's wife might be more beautiful than yours but yours is safer. This is realised by Raj &151; played by Bobby Deol &151; the hard way.

This is not a film to be watched with your best friend's spouse. But packaged as it is with fine locales, enchanting music and competent acting performances, it is not too bad a bargain for the week-end. While Bobby Deol only occasionally manages to transmit the fear of the fugitive, Akshay Kumar is just about competent in his role of the man who will do anything for money. Even murder.

As for Kareena, well for someone still passing through the dew- fresh phase of her career, she is pleasantly plump. She will never be a contestant for the "Ms Svelte" title. But who needs that certificate anyway when you have the likes of Santosh Sivan, Subhash Ghai and Karan Johar casting you in their premier films? She does not have the greatest of roles here but manages to engage viewers' attention to her face of fortune even when there is a lot else screaming for attention.

Bipasha Basu revels in the revelatory demands made of a debutante in Bollywood. She plays a modern-day girl who knows her mind and body and has the ability to know when to use what. She may not be among the more amiable newcomers to come to the big, bad world of Bollywood but she sails through her diabolical role here with the ease of one married to her new-found profession.

ZIYA US SALAM

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