Wednesday, November 17, 2004

titular hints about a twisted denouement to another rip-off [aka Bajpai notches more Rana points] [aka Inteqam]

One of the things that underscores the sad state of the Bombay film industry is the career development of two eminently talented still-underused performers, Ashutosh Rana and Manoj Bajpai. Rana made a splash as Gokul the rapist in the Tanuja Chandra-directed Mahesh Bhatt-scripted (read "adapted/filched") Dushman. Bajpai made his mark as Bhiku Mhatre in RGV's excellent yet slightly flawed Satya, and in a sheer Welles-ian turn of events, ended up getting slotted for life. In an ideal world that afforded encouragement to talent and potential, both Rana and Bajpai would have received more opportunities to prove their worth. In the not-so-ideal world (aka our world), Rana gets slotted in minor roles in flicks both from the Bhatt camp (Gunaah) and beyond (Danger, Chot, Guru Mahaguru). Bajpai shows up in roles of varying merit (Kaun, Road, Pinjar, Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar!), and roles which make you wonder how *anyone* could keep their brains and marbles straight (Jaago, Fiza). And that the two delivered the best performances in a toilet clogger like LOC: Kargil should only cement the argument.

Which brings us to Inteqam, a movie that Bajpai clearly did for the moolah. This film achieves a lot during the course of its running time. It almost confirms beyond a doubt that Pankaj Parashar has lost it. It makes you wonder how people could get away with a soggy rip-off like this that makes the original (Basic Instinct) look like Citizen Kane. In fact, this film adds a counter-twist beating the original's predictable untwisted twist to the finish line in the race of confusion and bewilderment.

Onward ho. Truly relishing every moment in this film fuelled by the intelligence of a drying heap of elephant dung, Manoj Bajpai plays renegade cop (ACP) uday vire.ndranaath Thaakur (for syllabic similarity see also vijay diinaanaath chauhaan [yes, yes, puuraa naam]). The film opens with this potentially interesting shot of UVT sitting on a white bench with the wind blowing paper cups all around. After a badly lensed and edited[sic] fight sequence (fulfilling the requirement of introducing our hero through a display of his maaraa-maarii skills), we segue into the opening credits that abuse bad CGI, derive heavily (without credit) from the opening sequences of the Broccoli/Saltzman 007 flicks, while employing an electronically mixed marsh of alaaps and saragams. The other person who enjoys a notable introduction is Ishaa Koppikar (who honestly should have taken a hint from the success of her item number in Company and stuck to that niche). The first thing you see is her derriere sashaying away in abandon for the voyeuristic camera as she pushes her trolley at the airport. She is ava.ntikaa suuryava.nshii (see also: Catherine Trammell), a best-selling writer of thrillers. The problem is that real-life murders seem to resonate with the descriptions in her book (yeah, yeah, if you've seen Basic Instinct this is all massive déjà vu for you. Check out, if you will, the variety in influences betrayed by the pathetic cogging of both the shower scene and Herrmann's score from Psycho for one murder). This makes her a suspect in the investigation conducted by the hot-headed short-tempered brooding UVT (who, incidentally, has had 24 killings to his credit, but then he's a cop, so no one's perturbed).

Her latest hotcake is The Perfect Game (selling for MSRP Rs. 250 only). This is where we have one of the most subtly intriguing sequences in the film. The book's clearly in English. Bajpai reads the Hindi translation, yet, later on in the film, as she is working on her next book, she records her narrative in Hindi. Later on in the film, when UVT examines her laptop, he finds drafts in English. Such linguistic confusion!

The other principals in this flick are mahak (Nethra Raghuraman), the criminal psychologist with the hots for UVT (see also: Jeanne Tripplehorn's character in Basic Instinct). In lieu of the rather loud and clothes-unfriendly sequence of animal pleasure involving the cop and his shrink, we get a seduction song with Nethra doing all the shaking and jiggling while Bajpai sits in cool bare-chested muscular glory. Then there's Sharath Saxena hamming in bliss as Sub-Insector Pandey (kaatil ne battiis baar ##enjoy## kar kar ke maaraa hai ... ye mujhe ##passion## waalaa ##crime## lagataa hai ... is me.n bahut vaasanaa bharii hai ##sir##). There's also Sushmita "Kitty" Mukherjee porking around as Mrs. Lobo.

On the songs front you have aa_ii holii, which boasts (somewhere therein) the subtitle the lava would anyway have set your scarf on fire. And there's the gem that goes ab waqt kii aahaT bhii mujhe kadamo.n se Daraatii hai / sapano.n kaa sunaharaa aa.ngan hai par dhuup jalaatii hai. And, of course, the salacious video in the outdoors for ye ishq. And IK's number at Mikanos.

On the dialogues front, we have lots of carbuncles given the salacious nature of the plot. So of course we get climax in Hindi (aana.nd kii charam siimaa). And, regrettably, a lot of the first-in-Hindi-then-in-English fragments (a lot of which get uttered by Bajpai): suman kaa mukhabiir yaanii ##informer##, shay aur maat hotii hai ... ##check and mate##, paagal kii tarah ... ## like an insane killer ##. Then there's a nice exchange near the end of the film:

mahak: tumane mere saath dhokaa kiyaa

uday: tumane mujhe dhoke ke sivaa aur kuchh nahii.n diyaa

Perfectly echoes the sentiments of the audience, really. This rip-off exploiting locations in Bombay and Sri Lanka crops a fat stink, unsatisfying as both a mainstream flick and as B-grade guano.

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