Friday, February 25, 2011

Saat Khoon Maaf works in parts, but fails to surprise you

Vishal Bharadwaj. The name speaks volumes in Indian cinema. From his first mainstream directorial debut in Makdee to Kaminey that came out more than a year ago, he has been known to walk the unusual path, providing an unconventional treatment to his movies, and taking Indian cinema to its next level. He is known as the Quentin Tarantino of India due to his body of work. And not only direction, Vishal has been associated with Music, lyrics, story-screenplay, singing and a lot of departments of filmmaking and has done exceedingly well in them over many years. There has been a lot of hype around Saat Khoon Maaf due to its dark and daring subject and the ongoing stardom of Priyanka Chopra and her having seven different husbands in the movie. Does this all come through when you see saat khoon maaf? The answer is yes and no. SKM works in parts, there are instances when you feel the movie is being true to its nature of being a black comedy but there are instances where the actions become unreasonable and more of psychic paths. Lets explore the movie in further detail!

Saat Khoon Maaf is one of the most outrageous and bold subjects that have hit the screens from the Indian Film Industry and kudos to Vishal for that once again for picking up a subject which is so fresh. He continues his practice of adapting written texts into movie storylines and this one is based on Ruskin Bond's Susannas Seven Husbands. The film stars Priyanka Chopra as a woman whose unending search for love takes her into the arms of men that are wrong for her. Half a dozen spouses that are bumped off one by one when they fail her. There is always a sense of doubt about each of the deaths wherein you know that Susanna killed the guy but you are not sure how he killed them until its disclosed in the end. Vishal moves seamlessly from one story into another and some of the sequences have been very well done. In one sequence, the camera zooms and the funeral transforms into a marriage, while another sequence depicts the marriage transforming into a funeral. Also, the mystery of the killer with five fingers and one toe is disentangled towards the end, but the sequence doesn't register as effectively thanks to the way it has been depicted. The execution is very off beat and the new genre of black comedy might not go down well with the general audience. But to give credit to Bharadwaj, the sequences with the Russian guy Vronski, Annu Kapoor, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Irrfan Khan have been executed very well and the first two involving Vronski and Annu honestly give you the true feel of a black comedy. The films strikes you as odd, makes you feel uncomfortable, forces you to think, forces you to be extra-attentive to detail and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Sure, it's intense, but at the same time Bhardwaj injects humor in the narrative and that's the prime reason why the narrative never gets heavy or serious. I'd like to say this film is in a space of its own. The last half an hour or 45 minutes work the best for me. Its packed with surprises and well executed too!

The biggest problem with Saat Khoon Maaf is its quirky treatment, lack of reason at many instances and excessive cinematic liberties. All Bharadwaj movies are unconventional, but they stay true to the subject nature and the premise it is set in. The problem with SKM is that its screenplay becomes predictable and all the stories pretty much follow a same discourse wherein a a new guy is introduced, married to Susanna, his problems revealed, and killed thereafter. Its a set pattern, and the linear pattern does not leave many scopes for surprises. The elements of surprise that do come towards the end do not create the same impact, even though they are well executed. Though Susannas reason to dislike all her husbands is evident from the treatment, but why she chooses to kill them instead of leaving them or doing anything else is never disclosed in detail. Vishal does not dwell on her innate black mind at all and first few times, you are left wondering, was murder the only solution? One would have done with shorter stories and more dwelling on her nature. Having said that, I would say she found pleasure in doing so and if it had been depicted better, this black comedy would have stood apart. Irrfans story, Neils story, Annu Kapoors story and Vivaan's story come out as the most effective out of the lot and most author-backed by reason. One of the other problems with SKM is its reliance on cinematic liberties. Everything is a passe for Susanna and all her servants willingly participate in all her ill-doings without any motivation or interest. Badly written in portions, the movie suffers from an average narration too.

The biggest working point of SKM is the performance of Priyanka Chopra. Unfortunately, the screenplay does not give her any scope to show up whats going on inside the minds of Susanna, but nevertheless, she thinks, feels and breathes like Susanna all through the movie. Once again, PC sinks her teeth into this new challenging role of an almost desperate, attention-seeking, faulty, schizophrenic female and delivers a bravura performance. The sequence when she kills Vronski, the Russian husband, the sequence with Irrfan when she is sitting in front of the mirror, or the penultimate sequence with Vivaan on the beach, Priyanka wins your heart. Also, though she marries and remarries, you don't feel any kind of animosity or hatred for the character. On the contrary, one empathizes with her never-ending pursuit for true love. One feels the pain, loneliness and tragedy that she goes through and that's what makes her the woman that she eventually turns out to be. You just wish her reasons were as explicit, her nature as clear asthe ageing signs on her face and body after each husband. Out of all the actors, Annu Kapoor takes the cake and is miles ahead of any other performance in the movie, maybe better than Priyanka for some too. Vivaan does well too. All other actors are okay. Naseeruddin Shah suffers from an ill-defined role. The servants do well in their parts but could have been more reasonable. The music of the film is not that great for Indian audience barring the Darling number, which stands in a league of its own and is already hit. Dialogues are few and dont get baggy or bore you. Screenplay is nothing exceptional, as opposed to Kaminey, which also had a simplistic storyline but the screenplay did wonders. Cinematography is strictly with most of the sequences being shot in the dark, they were unable to try anything exceptional.

On the whole, Vishal Bharadwaj comes up with a film which will not go down that well with the Indian audiences because of its alien subject nature and not-upto-the-mark execution. The ending of the movie will definitely surprise you but it might not be acceptable to all too. Bharadwaj is not at his best, but SKM is definitely better than a lot of other movies. Watch it for its unusual nature and Priyanka's performance!

Rating - 2/5

No comments:

Post a Comment