Thursday, September 02, 2004

bound by danger

The present: Govind Menon achieves mainstream cult infamy [sic] with a cheap badly-written Love Story ripoff called Khwahish, which made its mark in Bollywood not for (a) the terrible performances by two people whose time was best spent on the ramp or in classy red light areas (Himanshu Malik and Mallika Sherawat aka Reema Lamba respectively) or (b) the terrible songs, which invited an excoriation of the FF button or (c) juvenile lines like I'm feeling horny, which were supposed to herald the new modern cosmopolitan sensibilities of the mainstream audience, but for the 17 kisses (someone actually counted!) it featured.

Flashback: Govind Menon claims to have achieved a place in trivial history by participating in what he asserts is the first scene in Indian film to feature cannibalism. Having trumpeted his cameo in KALAPANI thus, he then proceeded to helm a film called Danger [you can run but you can't hide] {how's that as an entrant in the English_title: English_suffix list}. Menon probably had a crystal ball that told him his future was in ripping off foreign works. Vasant Chheda, who achieved minor brownie points for financing Dev Benegal's bleak cynical Split Wide Open, spent several nights watching a nice little noirish thriller from the Wachowski brothers called Bound and adapting the elements for the desi turf. Chheda and Menon had a fallout on the final product, whose sole merit lies in the complete absence of narrative-shattering songs or dances. What is left is a small credit for direction dedicated to Govind Menon, but several for Vasant Chheda (he presents the film, he is responsible for the script, screenplay and dialogues, he produced the damn thing, and co-directed it!). And yes, he even stuck in an end credit reading "a film by vasant chheda". Good grief! Ashutosh Rana noted the precision and detail in the script as being a plus. He praised its level of completeness. Seeing that it was a calculated ripoff, I don't see what else one would expect. Unless one had not seen Bound. In fact, it's only if you haven't seen Bound that you would find elements of merit in this sorry flick. Chheda takes out the lesbian twist in the former and replaces it with a stale sucky whore-falls-for-jailbird-who-speaks-the-worst-street-slang-ever subtext, complete with several mouth-to-mouth chummaa-chaaTii that irks. Tara Deshpande plays Jennifer Tilly's counterpart (I'd really like someone to confirm my worst fears that someone else dubbed for her!), and Gina Gershon is transformed into the vastly undertalented Jas Arora. And Joe Pantoliano's wired mob accountant becomes Ashutosh Rana's Nainesh Vohra, a bania on a high wire. Another trivia-friendly name pops up on the music and background score credit. Who can forget "Whosane?", whose fame came not from his music but from his brief fling with Manisha Koirala. All attempts at style fall flat on their face. And would this be the first film to feature the words "oral sex" and "cunnilingus" on screen (albeit in the pages of a porno mag)? There are cuss words strewn across its landscape: melyaa and bhaaD*** make it -- others don't. Like I said, no merit of any kind. Perhaps as a measure of originality, the makers decide to put in a Sunset Boulevard-styled flashback-based narrative, which decides to break a promising sequence of events with a backstory that begs for the FF button. Look carefully and you might even spot them filching the lovely opening to David Lynch's Wild at Heart. Oh yeah, wait for the end credits, and you can sit through another in-joke. Producer Bhai, the sole song on the soundtrack (which actually exists, I kid you not) has a North-Indian producer talking about plagiarism, sex, and his next flick, Danger II. Mercifully, that never got made. And in case you were wondering about acting merit, the only person who plumbs a few minor points is shishir sharma as sarfaraaz paThan. As for cool moments, check out Ashutosh Rana's kyo.n sequence, which is probably the closest we'll get to a desi equivalent of Shatner's Khan in The Wrath of Khan. And now for some cool lines: chaayalaa, charabii tere baaDii pe aisaa laTakelaay jaise baniye kii dukaan pe DalaDe kaa Dibbaa and jab lagii phaTane to khairaat lagii baTane. And B-movie lovers will love the possibly unintentional nod to Bappi Lahiri with a club called Night Lover as well as the fact that sarfaraaz bhaaii's favourite intoxicant is VAT 69!

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