Now what was that? This is one question that haunts you at the end of the show. And, seriously, you want to direct this question to Kukunoor, who is also credited as the writer of this film.
Okay, let's dissect... The concept is interesting. The atmosphere is perfect. The mystery deepens with each passing minute. Just when you thought that Kukunoor had pulled it off, a twist in the tale pulls the carpet off your feet. The film crumbles and the impression generated by some brilliantly executed sequences evaporate into thin air.
For any whodunit to succeed, it ought to hold your interest till the very last frame. Most importantly, the answers raised in the screenplay have to be convincing and justified. But 8 x 10 Tasveer gets unbearable towards the penultimate 20-25 minutes. When the mask is taken off the killer's face, you are surprised. But the reasons that compelled him to act that way are childish. What happened, Mr. Kukunoor?
To cut a long story short, this tasveer is out of focus!
8 x 10 Tasveer is about Jai [Akshay Kumar], who possesses supernatural powers. Jai is of Indian origin who works as a forest ranger in Canada. His life is shattered by a loss of an important person in his life - his father [Benjamin Gilani]. This personal tragedy leads him to use his unique supernatural powers to unravel the mystery.
Now let's get to the root of the problem: The discrepancies in the script. Of course, 8 x 10 Tasveer is a whodunit and it would be sacrilege to reveal the end or the identity of the killer, but the reasons that compel the murderer to commit crime after crime are unbelievable and far from convincing.
The moment the truth is out in the open, from that point onwards, the writer doesn't have convincing answers to offer. There are so many gaps that remain wide open till the end.
Nagesh Kukunoor goes two steps ahead as a technician, but five steps behind as a storyteller. The film has been shot stylishly and the breath-taking locales of Canada and South Africa only give the film a picture perfect look. But the screenplay is faulty. So faulty that you exit the auditorium with questions and more questions in your mind. The outcome fails to convince.
Vikas Sivaraman's cinematography is top notch. The locales are splendid and the DoP has captured them with elan. There's no scope for music in the film and the three songs [opening titles, romantic song and end credits] are passable. The background score [Salim-Sulaiman] is electrifying.
Akshay pitches in a sincere performance. 8 x 10 Tasveer is a complete departure from the kind of films the actor is popular for and it only goes to prove that he's ready to experiment. Ayesha is natural. Sharmila Tagore is graceful. Jaaved Jaaferi is first-rate. Girish Karnad, Benjamin Gilani, Ananth Mahadevan and Rushaad Rana are perfect in their respective roles.
On the whole, 8 x 10 Tasveer disappoints. The film goes wrong, in fact horribly wrong, in the penultimate 20-25 minutes, which is the lifeline of any suspense-thriller. Nagesh Kukunoor has missed the bus this time!