Saturday, March 28, 2009

Aa Dekhen Zara

Where's Ghajini?

Jumping from great heights and into a swimming pool is firmly a cliche in my books. Hollywood overuses it, and I see that influence has crossed borders as well. Need an escape when your character is cornered? Well, leaping off a building automatically means a body of water deep enough to cushion impact down below. There's nothing more lazy than that nowadays, so thumbs down to any story that offers this quick fix, like a "Goto" statement in a program, rather than opting for a more elegant programming structure.

It's a little bit surprising that Aa Dekhen Zara clocks in less than 120 minutes, with intermission. Not that all Bollywood movies are supposed to be at least 150 minutes long of course, but you can feel that director Jehangir Surti has not grasped the need to tell more in less time, and as such the characters suffer in being nothing more than cardboard caricatures. Sub plots tangent off one another that they felt half-baked, and were introduced for the sake of, rather than for a purpose and a need. Not that it was narratively bad, but the story suffered from the lack of time.

And time plays a key role in this science fictioner. Neil Nitin Mukesh plays Ray Acharya, a freelance photographer with mounting debt and no assignments. His grandfather is a great scientist, and when he passed away, Ray inherits an old camera which turns out to be more than meets the eye. Of course I'm not going to reveal what it does here, which the movie does in a montage one step being behind the audience who would already have figured out by then, but suffice to say that with great power comes great responsibility, and big trouble as well, as a given.

For what it's worth, it delves into the greed of man. With power comes the ability to satisfy the lust after money. You can bet your last dollar that everyone when thrusted with a new power, will try to see if it can be monetized. And if it can, then you're likely to milk it for its worth. And when it comes to money, it's typically all men for themselves, with everyone wanting a piece of the pie, stopping at nothing to try and get at it. If it's a golden goose that lays golden eggs, then there will be neighbours eyeing that fowl of yours. Villains though are extremely one dimension. Having the story shifted to Thailand in the later half of the film, there seemed to be no qualms in highlighting the corruption of the police as either informers, or greedy bastards, that seem to plague both countries.

Bipasha Basu delivers more spunk than the male lead Neil Nitin Mukesh here, and it's no surprise since the veteran has more mileage in action flicks under her belt. Her role as a DJ turned aspiring singer here I felt was little more than to allow the usual song-and-dance routine to come up. While that set in a club was natural, there was one awfully artifical routine in Thailand where Ray and Bipasha's Simi escape into an outlaw bar, and are forced to sing and dance for the Thai men just because they're expected to. Neil and Bipasha also looked very awkward with each other, sharing really no chemistry as lovebirds, but rather clicked when they're supposed to be estranged.

It has a potentially interesting premise and plot device set up, but alas the story's yet another bland action flick with little suspense as you're likely to stay one step ahead each time. If only it had a better story, but perhaps that was left to a sequel (which Aa Dekhen Zara lead into) which will probably not be made since this film would have tanked that prospect.

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