The day I got to know that Vishal Bhardwaj was adapting another Ruskin Bond short story for the big screen, I went to all the possible book stores, searched desperately for the book with the story Sussana’s Seven Husbands, found it, bought it, read it and then heaved a sigh of relief. How else can you claim to be a Bhardwaj Fanboy!
The short story (just 5 or 6 pages) by Bond is a mood piece, sets an atmosphere where you don’t feel comfortable and there is an eerie feeling that something is lurking around the corner. Things are not explained, deaths are without any reasons and everything else is left to your imagination. Once I and other B-fanboys finished reading it, we all wondered endlessly about how Vishal is going to adapt it for the big screen. Knowing Bond, it should have been easy to predict. Rewind to Rusty days.
But what will compensate for the lack of central drama ? Add to that, our cinema habit of enjoying a “destination film” more than a “journey film”. If the last 20 minutes doesn’t satisfy us, nothing can compensate for the price of the ticket, no matter how brillant the rest of the film is.
And every fear came true with 7 Khoon Maaf. In CBSE curriculum, we had a short story in school titled “Curiosity Killed The Crow”. In case of 7 Khoon Maaf, I was the Crow. Not sure how different my reaction would have been had I not known about all the spoilers. Since the announcement of the film, have been following every bit of news, forcing every possible source to spill out the beans and I even knew about the spoiler in the film. The film’s official synopsis made matters worse where it gave out every detail about the plot. The only thing left to know was – How ?
The film opens with a scene where Priyanka is holding a gun close to her head. And the first thing I noticed was the patchy make-up on her face. You don’t expect to see such a face in a film directed by one of the country’s top five filmmakers. And things got worse from there. Not sure on whom the blame should be put but you can almost feel the layercake of make-up put on Priyanka’s face in many scenes.
If you follow the blog, am guessing you know more than enough about the story. Sussana. Six Marriages. Husbands. Dead. Neil’s character had so much potential but if only fake moustaches could save the day, we all would have been roaming around with those. John, well, I don’t have too many adjectives for wooden blocks. More or less, he remains the same. Naseeruddin Shah doesn’t have much to do, Russian actor Aleksandr Dyachenko has a charming presence and as always, Annu Kapoor is effortless. Irrfan Khan – benign by day, beast by night and he can go no wrong. But the one who gets to be the dude is Shah Junior – Vivaan. Not conventional good looking but confident and how! An assured debut. Unlike other first timers, not self-conscious of his body language at all. Blame it on the Shah-DNA. But to imagine him as Konkona’s husband, and again with that layer-cake make-up, that was the toughest part. Priyanka is spot-on, whatever she is expected to deliver, she does it well. If only she could get rid of that school-girl giggle, she would be more likeable.
If I ever murder someone, I’ll put the blame on Coen Brothers. Because they make killing look so cool. Wish I could share the blame with Bhardwaj too. But he goes for the emotional baggage. Justifiying every killing of the “dukhi-bechari-badkismat” Maidyum. Looking for love. Settling for blood. Killing just for the sake of killing, what a delicious dish it is! Like that war of whip-lashes (Neil Nitin Mukesh) in an open muddy ground.
And what’s the big picture ? 1,2,3,4,5,6 and then go for the sublime sufi swirls. Count that 7 and bingo!
The brillance of Bhardwaj is there, but too little, the way scenes are set and lit ( Double woot for Ranjan Palit). The master who has penned some of the best dialogues in the last few years, also drops few few lines here and there. Shaadi jaldi jaldi aur pachtao araam se. But it all boils down to nothing. It’s packed with so much stuff and yet offers so little.
The worst – even the song Tere Liye is not there in the film. At least that would have compensated for some of the pain of seeing one of your favourite filmmakers falter this way.