Monday, March 19, 2007

Nishabd – Movie Review

Bollywood moves one step forward

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Ram Gopal Verma always tells a story in a very realistic way. He is able to bring strong and controversial themes on to the screen and has to catch the audience unawares. From Rangeela to Satya to now Nishabd. He has shown both versatility and courage in trudging the path not much traveled in bollywood.

Nishabd is the story of an elderly man’s love towards a young girl who is still in her teens. More disturbing (by Indian values) is that she is his daughter’s friend. Jia (Jiah Khan), the girl in question comes to Vijay’s (Amitabh Bachan) house on vacation from Australia. Vijay, a photographer by profession, is attracted to the spirit of this brash, in your face, carefree girl, as well as her legs. As he makes it abundantly clear, this is not a ‘love at first sight’ affair that we usually find in regular bollywood movies.

As for Jia, the movie doesn’t make it clear what her true feelings are for the older man. Maybe she is attracted to his intelligence, as any younger person in a relationship would feel towards an older partner. Maybe it’s just an infatuation born out of a lack of father figure in her own life or maybe it could be just that she truly loves him. We are none the wiser at the end of the movie.

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The reason we do not find this out is because the movie is entirely told from Vijay’s viewpoint. We therefore know more about his feelings for the girl than her feelings towards him even though she is seen as encouraging his feelings and certainly as making the first advances towards him. We understand his inner turmoil and almost feels sorry for him.

RGV’s direction is very efficient. He tells the story at a pace that suits the overall pace of the movie. He has picturised the whole movie in a tinge of grey perhaps symbolizing the theme of the movie itself. He plays around with the camera angles giving us a topsy turvy view of the doomed relationship, not to mention the legs. Yes, legs play a huge part of this movie to the point of being obsessive.

The star of the movie undoubtedly is Amitabh Bachan. For someone like me who has grown up watching his successful onscreen image of an angry young man, it was unnerving to watch him being so utterly vulnerable. And I am saying that in a good way. The Big B is now able to break free of the constraints and compulsions which used to bog him down his earlier career. He is now able to play roles which he could not have dreamed of earlier.

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His vulnerability just pours out of the screen. He conveys most of the emotions very clearly without the use of his biggest asset, his voice. He does much of his emoting through his eyes. You can sense his pain, his lust and his love for Jia solely through his eyes. RGV makes much use of this with his trademark close-up shots. If in Sarkar he used that to convey power, here he uses it for a totally different effect. Big B even uses his formidable gait to convey the shame he feels while confronting his family with his feelings.

The rest of the cast does their job with aplomb. The newcomer Jia plays her role with sensuality and exudes rebellion in her every look. But strangely I did not find her as sexy as some of Verma's other heroines. Most notably Urmila. Revathy and Nazer too gives a creditable performance.

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My only grouse with the movie is that the ending seemed a bit too sudden and forced. We are not given enough time to digest Vijay’s disintegration into nothingness. But still this is a brave step forward for bollywood. Eventhough we still have a long way to go in handling tough and uneasy themes, every step taken towards it should still be applauded.

Rating: 3.5/5

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