Having divided audiences and critics, the discussion on 7 Khoon Maaf refuses to die down. And we are not complaining. First, we had a post expressing disappointment at a film that ‘packed so much, yet offered so little‘. Then we had Varun Grover passionately defending 7KM saying: ‘If 7 Khoon Maaf is boring, then Pratibha Patil is exciting.’
Never before has a Vishal Bhardwaj film been the subject of such intense debate and such diverse opinion! And never before has Subrat been so inconsistent with his reaction. Who knows, maybe it’s the effect of slow poison. Post-interval, post-climax and two days after watching the film, Subrat’s reaction to the movie has been changing quite fast. And yesterday he tweeted, “Have upgraded 7KM from a Good to a Very Good watch.” He is going to watch the film again. Not sure how he will react after second viewing.
In his own words, this ‘is not a 7 Khoon Maaf review. It is about my love affair with dekh to dil ke jaan‘. Professor in poetic mood. Read on:
Having sated myself with kababs and sheermal at Tunday’s that afternoon, I decided to seek some cerebral entertainment for myself with the matinee show at the Sahu theatre in the now faux-Victorian Hazratganj. That is how I watched a faux gangster noir titled Yeh Saali Zindagi. It led me to understand how there might only be 2 degrees of sepration between me and a cross-dressing gangster from Delhi who moonlights as a fashion designer in Ukraine. Chitrangada had so much bronze on her that it wouldn’t surprise me to find that Jyoti Randhawa catches her one day melting one of his trophies since Delhi has run out of bronzing creams. I trudged back to catch a drink at Faluknuma and see if the Ghazal troupe there could lift my mood.
I caught him playing ‘Main kahin kavi na ban jaoon’ when I stepped in which convinced me 2012 is definitely the year of mahapralay. Somewhere between the second and the third Kingfisher strong, a minor miracle unfolded. The singer went quiet for sometime and then burst into ‘Dekh to dil ke jaan se uthta hai, yeh dhuan sa kahan se uthta hai’. Sitting there, not more than a few miles away from where Mir passed away a couple of hundred years ago, I let the words and the excellent Avadhi pulao take over.
A couple of weeks later, on another Sunday, I sat watching 7 Khoon Maaf unfold before me. The reviews that had streamed in were the classic examples of damning by faint praise. ‘Vishal is, undoubtedly, a master craftsman (a term that brings the image of VB in that carpenter wala fevicol ad to me) but this time he fails to soar. But we should forgive him because I am saying so.’ Having equated the Bong gangsters of Kaminey to the cross dressing Ukranian variety of YSZ just that week, such reviews left me with dread.
There wasn’t much initially to dispel my fears. But gradually, I started noticing a lightness of touch and a certain approach to managing the difficulty of filming a story that is episodic in nature. I was about to warm up to all of this when Wasiullah decided to bring Mehdi Hassan singing ‘Dekh to dil ke jaan se uthat hai’. And, I was swept away. Especially, when he stops to ask Sultana about the meaning of ‘naa-tawan’ and then slaps her with the answer ‘kamzor’. Such beautiful detailing! And, this is what people are calling forced references to Pushkin, Anna Karenina et al. Forced? Pushkin had his exile which was ‘milon door’ from his home. From there on, it was Vishal the poet all the way.
You can’t go too wrong with that Mir verse. The first time it played in Hindi cinema was in Pakeezah in the sequence where Meena Kumari recounts the ‘Aapke paon zameen pe mat utariye’ incident to her friend (I think it was Vijaylaxmi). Naseem Banu (no, not Saira Banu’s mom) sings the ghazal which can be heard in snatches between the conversation. Subtlety was not one of Kamal Amrohi’s strengths. But the choice of Mir’s sher forced even Amrohi to go easy on the scene. The second time it appeared was in the opening sequence of Chashme Baddoor where the Mehdi Hassan version is used as you see the dhuan raising out of the cigarette in a pun that sets the film up.
I am glad Vishal continues and takes forward the fine tradition and delivers a film that brings him back as a true desi auteur (there, I said it). Who needs Ritchie or Tarantino when you can get such desi cross referencing.
As for the reviewers who don’t find the film delivering anything at the end, all I have to say is:
Reviewing ek meer bhari patthar hai
Kab ye kuch naatwan se uthta hai
(PS – Profsaab, yeh video aapke liye…chand panktiyaan aur hai…idhar udhar..)
Pic courtesy – Mint Lounge