Monday, May 10, 2004


Tigmanshu Dhulia's directorial début Haasil featured Irrfan, Jimmy Shergill and Hrishita Bhatt. The most heartbreaking moment for me in the film came early on when Ashutosh Rana's character was bumped off. Just when I was looking forward to some great acting, one of the two people who could have provided me this pleasure (the other being Irrfan, JUST in case you were wondering) was wiped off the face of the film. Dhulia then proceeded to demonstrate his inability to sustain pace and interest by flogging a flagging sappy love story by loading with narrative-unfriendly ballast (coy looks, lovey-dovey exchanges, saccharine songs -- Jatin-Lalit, clearly).

Now Dhulia returns with Charas. The three aforementioned players return. And Irrfan relishes every one of his brief moments as the blond Policeman, a drug pasha safely hidden away in the jungles of Manali. Jimmy Shergill continues to function as a non-entity, and Hrishita Bhatt does her bit playing close-to-life dumb and cute. My-biceps-are-larger-than-my-face Uday Chopra wanders in and out and competes for on-screen time, but can't transcend a bare modicum of competence in the acting department. Namrata Shirodkar butts in to confuse us by starring opposite Shergill, while Bhatt swaps for Chopra. In this casting confusion, we have a voiceover (more on this later), and a host of other characters. The one thing that made me sit up was the overflowing emphasis on style and slickness. The film has a great look, and the technical department doesn't go overboard fellating themselves on their style (for an example of style eroding minimal substance, see Kaante). The background score worked for me too (thanks, perhaps, to fragments that seemed straight out of Salim-Suleiman's work for Darna Mana Hai). There's an urgency to the proceedings and the songs work (except for the disastrous Sholay-esque ham hai.n diiwaane). The voiceover introductions include little hints about things about to be resolved later on in the film (that's if you are paying attention). There's a strong sense of nothing being what it seems to be, including identities and motives. And the flashback explaining the origin of Irrfan's character's name is very very Hong Kong-action flick-y. Despite these positives, the film suffers because the frenetic pace of the proceedings overtakes the narrative and also leaves us with characters who are not fully developed to gain our sympathy or hatred. This works for a character like Policeman and for the general vertigo (intended?) of events, but not all across the board. Still, I'd like to watch this once again, just to catch some of the stuff I might have missed out in the first viewing (which was dominated by cooking and consuming bhajis and sipping hot tea and indulging in NC-17 MSTK as well as an interesting discussion on the importance of cleavage and ogle-able assets in Hindi movies).

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