Wednesday, November 05, 2003

sssshhh... sing and Scream

{see also: music review}

What a terrible movie title. Not a single syllable. s4h3 would have been better. Consider the following (imagined conversations):

A (one end of the phone): Hey, what are you watching?
B (other end of the phone): Sssshhh...
A: Sorry, I didn't realize I was so loud over the phone.

A (phone, again): Oy! kyaa dekh rahaa hai?
B: Sssshhh...
A: Abbe!! Terii **** kii!!!

For plot sources see also: And Then There Were None/Ten Little Indians. For the clown angle, try Stephen King's It (or the rather commendable miniseries) For denouement inspiration and general chills, watch Scream and Valentine. In fact, skip this movie entirely, and rent Wes Craven's return to form instead. Even the sequel is miles ahead of this bore-o-rama.

The film opens with its first murders at a squash court and Simone Singh chalks up points with her brief ill-fated cameo. The well-shot sequence (and the film as a whole) benefits also from a trustworthy creepy background score from Salim-Suleiman (see also: Teen Deewarein, Darna Mana Hai, Bhoot). We also see the killer, albeit decked up in a black cloak and donning a clown's mask (designed by a dude called Vivek). Allusions to the coulrophobia in Stephen King's It are probably purely unintentional. At this point, you must realise that the only reason for the getup is to add mystery for us viewers. Shame! Little can be said in favour of the rest of the proceedings. Starting off with a fairly unreadable credit sequence (the dark red letters fail to stand clear of the changing backdrop of a tableaux of death!) as Nigam belts out his first contribution to the soundtrack. Adan Sami's song failed to make the final cut, which is a pity, considering we have to sit through several more painful songs (although the FF button was put to good use for most of the musical interludes and the overlong boat-trip to the remote island of Poda from the Thai mainland). The plot drags on and on. All menace has to sadly come from the sincerity of supporting players like Shivaji Satam, Maya Alagh (surprise! surprise! it's been a long time!), and Aly Khan, some commendable camerawork (although most of the time the camera-people decide to favour tilts and inverted slides instead of more appropriate straight on slick-edit sequences), and the unassumingly screen-friendly presence of Gaurav Kapur. Dino Morea's much-lauded performance didn't grab me at all -- too artificial and hammy. And now we come to the "star" of the show, Kajol's little sister Tanisha who makes her début. The Kajol connection buys her some tolerance, because she looks ordinary (and even repulsive at times), can't act for nuts (check out her moments of fear and anxiety and her screech-fests -- proof that the FF button is the most useful button while watching a flick like this). And just about everyone else looks like the woodwork -- no distinguishing attributes, although some of the banter and characterization of the clique are well done. Maybe there is an irony in naming her character mahak (meaning: fragrance). She stinks in the acting department, as does the repulsive Suvarna Jha as Gahanaa (meaning: Jewel). Can't say much for Karan Nath (Suuraj), Kushal Punjabi (Nikhil), or Tina Chaudhary (Ria). And there's Naseer Abdullah in a blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo as Mahak's late father (other scenes on the chopping table?).

Rakesh Roshan's Karobar had people deciding to take a trip to South Africa in the same vein as they would decide to go for an evening walk. A similar moment occurs when the friends decide to take a trip to Thailand.

Meandering from killing to killing and peppering the flagging narrative with songs that deserved a place elsewhere (try a trash can), the film finally brings us to the climax, at which point we really don't care. In fact, for all that she has put us through, Mahak deserves to die. Sadly, Kaul and party Scream to a finish, tacking on an explanation of motivation that reeks of countless nights of bad (most) Bollywood movies. At one point in the film, Dino's character says: tuu Hindi filme.n bahuut dekhataa hai: There's another reference besides the self-reflexive irony: the person this remark is addressed to seems to owe a lot of his performance to one in the source movie. Unintentional touch, I guess.

Director[sic] Pavan S Kaul and other people responsible for this yawnfest were last reported to be exploring innovative marketing strategies to promote the film using SMS. Why bother?

While on the subject of horror, K-fetishist Ekta Kapoor and loud-adaptation-fetishist Satish Kaushik are planning a remake of the Nutan classic Saraswati Chandra.

Also on a related note, the first of the final three editions in King's Dark Tower/Gunslinger series has hit the stands.

more on the value addition of Scream to the horror film genre.

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