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<i>Woh Lamhe</i> - Movie Review

 
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By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Parveen Babi. The very mention of the name conjures images of a star who made news when alive and who hit headlines when she met with an isolated, solitary demise.

Her relationship with Mahesh Bhatt at their prime was fodder for gossip mills then. The party circuit as well as the studios reverberated with tales of this relationship. But not many knew how stormy this relationship was. Bhatt unravels yet another chapter of his life -- his relationship with Babi -- in Woh Lamhe...

While Bhatt maintains that the story is based on factual incidents, you take it on face-value for the simple reason because what transpired between two individuals behind closed doors is something only they know. At the same time, if Bhatt claims that Woh Lamhe... is a true account from start to end, no work of fiction, then there are certain sequences that do raise your doubts vis-À-vis Bhatt's claims.

As a cinematic experience, Woh Lamhe... is an intense love story, a bit complicated, but deftly executed nonetheless by talented Mohit Suri. Mohit's strength lies in the fact that he narrates the troubled side of a popular star with rare understanding, handling the character with kid gloves and making it come alive on screen.

Watch Woh Lamhe... not for any other reason but to carry home a sad segment of a popular star's life, a glamour queen who called the shots in the 1970s and early 1980s. It's a lump in the throat experience!

In the glitzy entertainment capital of Mumbai as dusk descends, famous actress Sana Azim [Kangana] slashes her wrists in a hotel room, in an attempt to kill herself. When this news reaches film-maker Aditya Garewal [Shiny Ahuja], he is devastated. Aditya has been searching for Sana, who was intensely involved with Aditya and who had mysteriously disappeared from his life without any explanation, three years ago, only to surface now in what could be the last moments of her life.

As Aditya waits outside the ICU in a death watch situation, praying to be reunited with her, he is hurled back into the perfumed days and champagne nights of his memory, wherein Sana played the role of both, lover and mentor to a struggling Aditya.

Everything was perfect, except for an enemy which lurked in the shadows, waiting to destroy their love. When Aditya realizes that the only way he can save Sana from total devastation is to take her away from Bollywood and the vested interests that threaten to destroy her completely, he runs away with Sana putting his career on the line. Those moments lived in the sanctuary of their love are like an oasis in the desert.

Until one day, suddenly, she disappears, leaving him with unanswered questions. Why did she leave at the very acme of their love, when there seemed to be hope? What pushed her to attempt suicide? Will Aditya finally be able to piece together the puzzle that has been haunting him and almost destroyed him? And most important of all, will he be reunited with his love?

A film like Woh Lamhe... is very difficult to make. It's not one of those love stories where lovers meet, separate and reunite in the end. This one's far more complicated and that's a major responsibility on Mohit Suri's young shoulders. It would've been easier for Bhatt to open pages of his life's diary and narrate the story himself since Woh Lamhe... happens to be a chapter from his life after all. But it's tough for someone who didn't go through the pain or was not even remotely connected to present the turbulent phase in a relationship. That's precisely why Woh Lamhe... works because Mohit Suri narrates the story in the most convincing manner.

While Woh Lamhe... works in entirety, a few poignant moments do make you sit up. Take the sequence at the party [when Kangana throws her undergarment at Shiny] and her rape by Shaad thereafter. It's a spine chilling moment. The conflict between Kangana's mother and Shiny at the hospital [discussing alternate therapy: shock treatment] is another powerful sequence. The birthday sequence in the second hour is the ideal way to lead to the culmination, where Kangana realizes that she needs help and walks out.

Any blemishes? Not really, except that the slow pacing at times does irritate you. Also, one doesn't know what really happens to Kangana after she runs away from Goa. Some info on that front, even verbose, would've only made the concluding reels stronger.

Mohit Suri takes giant strides as a storyteller. If Zeher and Kalyug reiterated the fact that Mohit knows his job well, he climbs the ladder with Woh Lamhe..., which is undoubtedly his finest effort so far. Mohit gets abundant support from Shagufta Rafique's script. The chronology of events never gives you time to blink an eyelid. Dialogues too are wonderful and when required, pithy.

Pritam's music is soft and easy on your ear drums. 'Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai' is already a rage, but there are morel harmonious compositions as well. Cinematography [Bobby Singh] is excellent. The D.O.P. lends the right colors to the story.

Woh Lamhe... rests on two power-packed performances: Kangana and Shiny. Kangana gets the role of a lifetime in her second film itself and the actor sinks her teeth into it and delivers an astounding performance. If you've ever interacted with Parveen Babi, even briefly, you'd see a replica of the glamorous star in Kangana. Her styling is also excellent.

If you think there's not much space for any other actor since Woh Lamhe... is primarily a Kangana film, watch Shiny's performance here. Yes, he impressed us in H.K.A. and Gangster, but this one's the most difficult part he's got so far and his performance only accentuates the proceedings.

Debutante Shaad Randhawa springs a pleasant surprise in a negative role. The length of his character may not be substantial enough, but his performance more than makes up for it. Another talent from Vishesh Films to watch out for!

Masumeh as Rani, Kangana's 'hallucination', is first-rate. Her look and her dark makeup ignite the screen every time she appears. Purab Kohli is competent. The actresses enacting the role of Kangana's mother and also Shiny's friend [Salomi] are tremendous too. Sandeep Sikand as Hamida, Kangana's makeup man, is good.

On the whole, Woh Lamhe... is a well-made emotional film that lingers in your memory even after it's over. There are many lamhe in Woh Lamhe... that you carry in your heart and that's why the film works for the moviegoer. At the box-office, this one has the power to go from strength to strength, show-wise and day-wise. Business at multiplexes should be bountiful.

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