Thursday, February 07, 2008

bored in the light

The premise of Red: The Dark Side smells like a lift: a guy falls for the widow of the donor of his heart. What can you expect from the director of such once-agains as Yakeen, Aetbaar, Footpath and Awara Paagal Deewana? By the time the end credits begin to roll, you're left wondering how such promising material met with such undeserving wretched execution. The film essentially represents another of Vikram Bhatt's poorly executed maudlin buckets of ennui (see also Inteha) besides being another vehicle featuring his on-screen alter ego Aftab Shivdasani. Aftab is not alone; he has Amrita Arora (Girlfriend, the dillii kii sardii item song in Zameen) and Celina Jaitley (made her début in Khel, spoofed Vanessa Mae in Janasheen, was one of the zombies in Zinda and contributed 50% of the wood falling for the hirsute Hashmi in Jawani Diwani).

At this point it must be noted that it is a carnal (no pun intended) sin to encourage the acting aspirations of such fine pieces of wide-eyed bambi-brained silconeans as Arora and Jaitley. Ladies, you have been specially chosen to be eye candy, to load the screen with oomph, to sashay and sway in various family-friendly stages of undress. You were not designed to -- shudder! -- act. It behooves the producers of cinematic enterprises featuring you to encourage you to answer your calling and to nip any aberrant strains of ambition in the nascent bud.

You miss a tribute to Dan Brown and his trademark opening sentences, when the credits are followed by an inter-title that says "A few months back." A change in the colour palette is denied any subtlety by the annoying and expected inter-title "Now" several shots later. Need one also note that the colour employed in these inter-titles is ... duh! ... Red?

A tribute to the penchant of directing duo Abbas-Mustan to have a misspelled sign in their movies (I remember Khiladi and Baazigar) comes in the form of the Hindustan Times headline "the greiving widow."

A tribute to Bollywood's refusal to worship the details is evident in the sequence when a cop holding an iron rod from the scene of a crime is asked to send it for fingerprints. The tendency of going overboard with technical devices is evident when a nice narrative technique of inter-cutting moments in the present and the near past is overused.

If you thought Bhatt was going to reveal an immaculately presented B- forest cake under this icing of quotes and tributes, you picked the wrong tree to hug. Given a trio that seems to have found a font to educate a wretched pleasure in wallowing with dour faces and sour lines, you can only try and seek solace in the occasional pearls that the dialogue track coughs up. Sushant Singh hams away with glee and lends an eerie depth of sincerity to his part as the investigating officer. There is a calm confidence when he notes the three reasons for a crime (zar, joruu, zamiin) or when he riffs on nahii.n jaanataa. It's a pity that he has to share footage with the murderers of choice lines like you've not only given me a life; you've also given me a reason to live, you used me in bed and I used you out of it, tumane merii zi.ndagii me.n zahar milaayaa, aur mai.nne use champagne me.n and I'm ready to die in love, I'm ready to kill in love, but I'm not ready to be a fool in love. The only ray of hope emerges when a manager at Sea View offers his reason for thinking that a now deceased guest was an honest man: wo hameshaa ek hii la.Dakii ke saath aate the. Oh! If only that had come with an accompanying subtitle that read he was singularly unfaithful.

When The Nose was chosen to deliver chart-busting songs for the soundtrack, he churned out a standard set of sneezes laced with infectious riffs, thumps (consider aafariin) and ridiculous lines (loneliness is killing everyone). These also meet a dire fate at the chopping block of ennui.

The previews throve in mendacity. Skin-hungry viewers were duped by the visuals into expecting a G-rated ménage à trois, but only got the trademark Bollywood sniffing and a shot of Celina Jaitley standing like a man in the gym ready to do some sets with dumbbells. This epidermal treachery seemed very much in keeping with flicks like Girlfriend and Paap.

One is only left in the vermeil darkness contemplating all the promise that this flick held.

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