Few directors in India have left me wanting for more. One of them is Mahesh Bhatt. He possessed a rare sensitivity and astute talent in detailing human emotions If you notice I have intentionally switched to the past tense, since he has declared his resignation from active ‘direction’ of films or so he says…most of the films under his banner presently smack of the “Bhatt Saab’ touch…for better or worse.
It is only natural then that a film touted as being biographical, encapsulating the relationship Mahesh Bhatt shared with yesteryears heroine Parveen Babi had me earnestly awaiting a trip to the theatres. Although this is the third venture into the very same chapter of his life..earlier two being ‘Arth’ , ‘Phir Teri Kahani Yaad Ayee’. Come to think of it, this must be a record of sorts! How many directors have ‘exploited’ a relationship three times over?? Was it love which dictated this obsession with vicarious enactment of the ‘glorious years? Or, if one is to believe the less compassionate anti Bhatt brigade, merely a cashing in on a chapter which deserved to have been buried in dignity of silence..after all the woman was dead and incapable of validating the veracity of events!
Parveen Babi , I must confess had been a charmer. I had met her on a couple of occasions, where the sharing of our birthdays had sparked off a pleasant chat . It was the first time for both of us to have met someone born the same day. That she was a beauty is an understatement..simply put, very akin to a Porcelain doll, exquisite and delicate. To match that vision with the last photograph, taken a little before her demise, left one dumbfounded and aghast..life had turned out to be such a bummer for her!!
The film took off from a point when the heroine was already in an ‘abusive to the core’, relationship, despite being a Star’. Her vulnerability was the reason for the magnetic attraction to a director who perhaps was at a juncture in his life when success was elusive. He needed a break, so his calculated manipulation of the womans emotions brought him the desired result.. From here, the film within a scene or two catapults the audience into believing that such a man would then risk his career, life, future and happiness to sincerely tend a ‘schizophrenic woman’ prone to violence and unreasonability of behaviour.. The lack of graphing emotional quotient in the story having badly faltered, I think the audience then failed to relate with the ensuing turn of events.
It is a great advantage for a film to broadcast its ‘based on a true story’ credentials. Automatically, as it were, the audience happily resigns itself to the sequence of events, without much ado. Notwithstanding, the script and director , I am sorry to say, lost out on taking the audience through a journey which could have been at once painful, beautiful , sensitive and emotional. This , mainly because the reality of script was partially true,(despite their claims ) the pathos resultantly diminished to half as well.. ‘Arth’ the original, and most closely related to the actual life of Mahesh Bhatt, was dissimilar in one aspect, which probably was the most important, and totally missing in this interpretation.. the fact that the Director was a much married man, now involved in an extra marital relationship with an actress, who was slowly losing her mind. The extraordinariness of the situation was best brought out in that film..this then deteriorated into a much chewed on cud of the same beaten to death emotion and circumstance..what a pity!!
It appeared almost as if, the Director, who, to begin with, in search success had latched on to this actress, was still exploiting her by flogging the privacy of their life together, again and again, relentlessly , yet, in search…Of what. this time?.. Acclaim..fame..pity..admiration..or plain greed??
Had this been just another film, perhaps the parameters of evaluation might have differed . Whether, it would have even in that case translated into a successful film on all counts, is debatable. For one the expansiveness of a stars life in its myriad hues, the glitz, glamour and the loneliness amidst it all,was totally missing. None of the characters were etched with deftness,, therefore failed to strike a chord with the viewers.
The post intermission scenes in Goa, were the best in the film and redeemed the story to a large extent. I suspect, what worked there was the location of the house,simply superb, and the texture of the scenes..they smelt..TRUE. It was almost as if one was taking a peek into real moments of a real couple caught in the dilemma of a sick mind and a loving heart..this was the only portion that left one numb with empathy for the characters..Probably, Mr. Bhatt had personally supervised the writing and direction, while vacationing in Goa.. Otherwise how does one explain the marked difference between the handling of scenes and treatment of narrative, all of a sudden?
Most films dealing with ‘schizophrenic paranoia’ leave it to the imagination of the audience, and the skill of the actor to convey the trauma of the patient. .a case in point Aparna Sens”Park avenue’ and the earlier two by Mahesh Bhatt. This film however an added character , that of the ‘friend Rani’ who existed in the mind of the heroine. She was given a face. This definitely worked for the audience to empathise with the fear experienced, since her appearance was scary, to the hilt. A nifty addition that lent a dimension and layer which in an otherwise weak script, manged to jolt the audience, simultaneously identifying with the disease in question.
Kangana as the female protagonist, mustered up a performance which is noteworthy especially because she is a relative newcomer. Her first film was ‘Gangster’ also from the Bhatt stable.Though she may not fit into the accepted mould of Bollywood, yet she cannot be ignored henceforth..she will make her mark. Shiney Ahuja has displayed better histrionics in his earlier films.He definitely did not look the part, which ought to have been also the directors department, if not initiative. Neither was he as convincing. Although in all fairness to him, this is in comparison with his own earlier standard established in ‘Hazaaron khwaahishein aisi’.
Music was pleasant but tunes clearly were ‘inspired’. ..it was almost as if someone from the Bhatt camp went to Pritam with cd’s that needed to be re-arranged..cannot blame the music director there.. no one argues with Mahesh Bhatt.
The director, Mohit Suri, is young , has a long way to go in years and maturity. nevertheless a promising beginning. He understands story telling, in its barest form..subtle nuances have evaded his sense of aesthetics so far.
All in all a film which left me wanting for more..not as in wanting more ..of Mahesh Bhatt.