Wednesday, May 26, 2004

where o where are you?

Kahan Ho Tum (never give up on a friend ...) has triviamonger-friendly attributes: Raghuvir Yadav features on the soundtrack along with Raj Zutshi. It also seems like a classic Bollywood mixie product: take a foreign flick, map to desi ideas and inundate with clichéd desi attributes, stuff with wasteful songs and sauté till unbearably burnt. And then sprinkle some water on top and serve up a "sizzler".
The foreign flick in this case is Joseph Rubin's Return to Paradise, itself a remake (which means this version was official) of Force majeur. Rubin's film is quite effective actually, because it puts every protagonist into a grey area: the two vacationing friends have their share of vices, one of which, substance abuse, implicates them morally in the imminent death of their friend on the island. In the desi take we have no such complexity. We have two vastly uncomfortable mannerism-laden dudes, one all set to join an American company, and the other a prodigious architect about to receive a national award. No drugs. Instead, there's a lame angle straight out of the archives: the rape and murder of a tribal belle (since she has to exude oomph and front-bench sex appeal, she is played by Shweta Menon with the appropriate jhaTakaas and seductive rain song sequence. Director[sic] Vijay Kumar seems to want to assert his FTII roots by using the Vertigo zoom (see also: Good Fellas and Jaws) to introduce Shweta's tribal lass to the voyeuristic audience. Of course, there's the lecherous evil leering sarpanch (deliciously hammed away with pleasure by Kenneth Desai). And instead of Anne Heche's lawyer, we have an awkward lass (Isshita Arun -- what's with the second S?) who has arrived in Bombay from London to do a feature on the jogan tradition (which is the village sarpanch's specious mechanism to provide himself with a steady supply of nubile nymphets from the junior artiste department). Aurally, she ends up being a bad copy of Perizad Zorabian -- and that's bad enough to begin with. She achieves a minor miracle for the film by clocking some cool Hindi/English dialogue (which is not unheard of) in different variants -- both as the provider and the recipient of similarly themed lines: laapataa ... you mean he's missing? and later laapataa ... yes he's missing. Amazing. If you haven't figured it out already, skip this flick and fall sick instead.

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