By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Friday, September 08, 2006
The general impression about Naksha is, it's a rip-off of an Indiana Jones film. The Harrison Ford trilogy, which entertained millions of moviegoers worldwide in 1980s, is said to be the original source for Sachin Bajaj's directorial debut.
That could be true!
Naksha belongs to the Indiana Jones variety, but Bajaj combines Indian mythology with adventure and comes up with a new recipe altogether. And the outcome is as invigorating and revitalizing as a cup of hot coffee.
Frankly, a film like Naksha transports you to your adolescent years, when browsing the adventure novels and comics was your favorite pastime. It's the form of cinema that we'd forgotten in the hurly-burly world of meaningless entertainers. Dream merchants are either busy wooing the NRIs or multiplex junta. What happens to the masses then, who yearn for a desi film with loads of entertainment?
Adventure movies have been attempted in Bollywood earlier and Naksha is not the first of its kind in India. But Naksha comes at a time when adventure movies are as good as extinct in Bollywood. And that is its USP. The voyage -- in dense forests, high mountains and deep ravines -- as also the death-defying stunts compel you to pinch yourself, are you really watching a Hindi film?
Stylishly executed with loads of money spent on attaining the results, Naksha comes across as a thoroughly enjoyable joyride. Sure, it has its lows, but the highs are so omnipotent that you can't help but let the kid in you get captivated by this adventure.
Most importantly, Naksha heralds the birth of a supremely talented storyteller Sachin Bajaj, who, aided by his two lieutenants, writers Milap Zaveri and Tushar Hiranandani, tells you a story that has ample old-world charm, but is yet modern and believable.
To sum up, the pre-release expectations from Naksha may be low, but the film surprises you once the adventure begins. It's not only high on gloss, but also entertainment.
For centuries men have been in quest of the secrets of our past. Hidden treasures, fables, myths, all have driven generations to dedicate their life in such pursuits. The greed of glory and power or the thirst of knowledge, whatever the reason may be... lives have been lost but some secrets have remained secrets!
Naksha starts with the search of one such man, an archeologist named Professor Kapil Malhotra [Trilok Malhotra], who prefers to die with the ancient map, rather than let it fall into the hands of evil [Jackie Shroff]. Years later, his son Vicky [Vivek Oberoi], aided by a copy of the same map that he comes across by chance, leaves on a journey to discover what it was that his father dedicated his life in searching.
The re-emergence of this quest attracts the evil forces again, as Vicky is abducted by the villain's henchmen. Help comes in the guise of Vicky's elder step-brother Veer [Sunny Deol], who is sent there by Vicky's mother [Navni Parihaar] to get her son back. Vicky is grateful to be rescued, but not too happy about his brother's mission to take him back.
Now starts a tug of war between the two brothers. Along this journey, they encounter one more ally in Ria [Sameera Reddy]. Pursued by the villain and his forces of darkness, this trio sets off on the journey to unravel the mystery behind the map.
Do they succeed in this quest? Are some secrets meant to remain hidden in the mists of time? Or do they see the light of day?
Naksha has bits of all the three Indiana Jones movies, but it come close to the first in the series -- Raiders of the Lost Ark [Indiana Jones must retrieve the mythic Lost Ark before it gets into the hands of Adolf Hitler]. In this film, Vivek decides to unravel the mystery of the naksha before it falls in the villain's hands.
Naksha gathers momentum fifteen minutes after it takes off, when Vivek, unexpectedly, lays his hand on the naksha. But the film gets interesting once Sunny makes a dramatic entry in an action scene. In fact, Sunny's introduction is a highpoint of the enterprise and the masses, especially in the North and the heartland of India, will greet it with claps and whistles.
There are highpoints galore: Sunny's fight with the midgets, Sunny-Vivek and the jeep stunt, the raft portion, Jackie's first encounter with Sunny-Vivek-Sameera and the jump from a cliff [awesome!] and the climax. In fact, the penultimate reels are simply breath-taking and the spectacular sets only elevate the impact.
If the action scenes are without doubt the soul of the film, the director and his team of writers balance the proceedings with several light moments that make you flex your facial muscles. The snoring sequence or Vivek's conversation with the chief of the midgets [Lilliput] are two examples to illustrate the point. Also, the mythology aspect is beautifully woven in the script and the animation [in the post-interval portions] gives the film a different texture.
There are loose ends, but they're trivial. The erotic song in the second hour looks completely unwarranted. Was it added to provide some relief from the drama? It stands out like a sore thumb, even though its picturization is very stylish. Also, the special effects, in the last few reels, could be better.
Sachin Bajaj handles two departments -- writing and direction -- with aplomb. The film has style, but there's substance too. This is amongst the finest directorial debuts of 2006. Naksha is also writers Milap Zaveri and Tushar Hiranandani's most accomplished work so far. Their fundas are clear: Give the audience an adventure flick and pad it up with adrenaline pumping moments.
Allan Amin's action sequences deserve distinction marks. The action co-ordinator comes up with stunts that truly match international standards. Pritam's music is racy and at least two numbers deserve special mention -- 'U&I' and 'Shake It'. The sets [Nitish Roy] are imaginative and visually striking. Vijay Arora's camerawork is extra-ordinary. The aerial shots as well as the indoor work [sets] are splendid. Background score is topnotch.
It's good to see Sunny in form after a long, long time. The role doesn't demand histrionics, but star power. His presence alone elevates a sequence to a different level, but it's the death-defying stunts that he pulls off without much of an effort that'll win his fans back. In fact, Naksha should prove to be a turning point in the actor's career.
Vivek is decent, but he tends to go over the top in a few light scenes with Sunny. Although his performance is just right, the fact cannot be denied that Vivek is a cold proposition at the box-office and that could affect the initial prospects of the film.
Cast in a negative role, Jackie plays the part with utmost conviction. Sameera is alright. Suhasini Mulay and Navni Parihaar have little to do. Ditto for Lilliput. Mridula Chandrashekhar is okay.
On the whole, Naksha is a solid entertainer that comes at a time when there's a genuine vacuum of mass-appealing films. This pulse-throbbing adventure film is aimed at the masses, who should love it for its interesting plot, gripping screenplay and excellent action. At the box-office, Naksha should work big time in places like Delhi, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar as also in the interiors. Business will be ordinary at mutiplexes [due to the strong Lage Raho Munnabhai wave, especially at Mumbai, Delhi and other metros], but single screens should be fantastic. Go for this adventure!