Monday, February 09, 2004

ek hasina thi

another stupendous offering from RGV's Factory. The nominal implications of an assembly line are ominous. But Bollywood has filmmaking families that generate lovey-dovey mush in a similar fashion. And given that those products are decidedly inferior wallpaper packaged in exquisite wrapping paper, why should I complain about the assembly line in RGV's case when I am assured good content in addition to good packaging? The storyline is simple and straightforward. Yet it is tight. And aided agrave; la Soderbergh by technical flourishes that afford brevity, pace, and symbolic allusions:

  • The TV and radio channel surfing gives us diegetic counterpoints to the on-screen action. This is a device that has devolved to being a cliché, yet Sriram Raghavan manages to make it work, just by resisting any temptation to zoom the camera in to change a tolerable metaphor to an unbearable simile.
  • When Sarika agrees to confess, a left-to-right pan aided by the invisible cut takes us and her from the meeting room to the courtroom
  • A havaldar's side of a phone conversation tells us about Sarika's father's death, and the only thing needed to complete the moment is the expression on Sarika's face as she takes the phone. No drama. No tamaashaa.
  • Just after this, we see flames. Just before we can moan "oh no. not the funeral pyre again", the camera moves back and we are at the chuulhaa in prison. Sarika is heating roTiis. And brevity wins again. The symbolism, although blatant, makes up for valuable footage.

Pratima Kazmi (see also: Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part II) joins a strong cast of regulars (Urmila, Saif, Aditya Shrivastav). And would someone give backgroundsman and RGV camp regular Amar Mohile more due? He's no Chowta or Salim-Suleiman, but he delivers the goods. The opening visual (what is it?? a diagrammatic mirage?) is accompanied a rare (triviamonger alert) foray by Pandit Jasraj into Hindi film singing. The other vocal track is the title song that serves as a background for a chase later on. It doesn't score high, but gets the job done. And will someone tell me why the cuss words (delivered by Aditya Shrivastav and Pratima Kazmi) were muted? With a A certificate already slapped on (although there's enough gore and bloodletting to merit that), the fickle censor board should have just things be. I wonder if the process of film certification has been automated with neural networks and decision nets.

Gaffe note: You can see the fake slap when Karan roughs Sarika up in the second half.

Inspiration note: While Double Jeopardy, Bangkok Hilton(remember Mahesh Bhatt's Gumrah?), Return To Eden (remember Rakesh Roshan's Khoon Bhari Maang?), Brokedown Palace are close echoes, a more appropriate source would be the only Sidney Sheldon book I might read again, If Tomorrow Comes. While Tracy Whitney becomes a con artist and gets back at the people who wronged her, Sarika's revenge is more domestic. There end the similarities. Thanks to Harish for the memory jog.

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