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By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Friday, March 02, 2007
The older man-younger woman / older woman-younger man concept isn't alien to Hindi films. Years ago, Yash Chopra's production house attempted Doosra Aadmi [Raakhee, Rishi Kapoor]. Then, of course, there was Lamhe [Anil Kapoor, Sridevi]. A spate of films in the intervening period tackled similar themes, notable among them being Leela [Dimple Kapadia, Amol Mhatre], Tum? [Manisha Koirala, Karan Nath], Ek Chhoti Si Love Story [Manisha Koirala, Aditya Seal], Joggers Park [Victor Banerjee, Perizaad Zorabian] and Dil Chahta Hai [Dimple Kapadia, Akshaye Khanna].
Attraction between two people is natural, despite an age difference. But the pertinent question is, Is the Indian moviegoer ready for a change? Let's face it, we're still very orthodox and conservative about certain issues. And Nishabd, Ramgopal Varma's new creation, tackles an issue which, for some unexplainable reasons, we don't wish to discuss publicly.
RGV says what he wants to without mincing words. In Nishabd, the 60-year-old man admits that he loves an 18-year-old girl. In the process, he severs ties with his wife and daughter. He wants to commit suicide subsequently, but doesn't. Conclusion: He wants to spend the remaining days of his life thinking of the tender moments he spent with the 18-year-old. Daring stuff!
So, does RGV borrow from Adrian Lyne's Lolita [1997; Jeremy Irons, Dominique Swain, Melanie Griffith]? Not really! The only similarity is that the older man falls in love with the younger girl. Lolita tackled, besides the aforesaid issue, pedophilia too. Thankfully, Nishabd stays away from that!
Nishabd is sensitively handled. No two opinions on that! But a film like Nishabd isn't everyone's cup of tea. It might appeal to a thin section of Indians living in metros, but for the wide majority, it's an absolute no-no. It's simply unpalatable, to put it bluntly.
Vijay [Amitabh Bachchan], a photographer, lives with his wife [Revathy] at a picturesque hill station. Their daughter Ritu [Shraddha Arya] and her friend Jiah [Jiah Khan] visit them during holidays. It isn't love at first sight for either Vijay or Jiah. But Vijay and Jiah are drawn towards each other.
However, Ritu gets to know of the affair and all hell breaks loose.
Like a majority of RGV films, Nishabd has an unconventional storyline. If the maverick film-maker needs a pat for swimming against the tide and choosing a bold subject, he also needs to know that certain subjects are taboo as far as Indian moviegoers are concerned.
Besides, the writing isn't foolproof either. Jiah is attracted to her best friend's father and falls in love with him. Her behavior is defiant and aggressive. She woos him openly, even though she's sharing the roof with the man's wife and daughter. Now that's a bit difficult to absorb. Also, Jiah walks around in the skimpiest of outfits, making you wonder what her true intentions are. Is she merely attracted to the man? Or does she need him to fulfill her physical needs?
Much later, the daughter gets to know of the clandestine relationship. How does she get an inkling of it? There should've been at least one sequence to justify it. A few sequences later, there's some realization and the man asks Jiah to leave the home. Why does he develop cold feet suddenly? If the man had the courage to take a bold step, admitting his feelings to his wife and daughter, why doesn't he stick to it?
The penultimate reels are a downer. The man cannot erase Jiah from his memory and the film ends on this note. Besides being a bold ending, it comes across as too abrupt.
RGV has tackled the theme with maturity and sensitivity. But, as mentioned earlier, it's the subject that has its limitations. Besides, the slow pacing of the film is another deterrent. The film moves at a lethargic pace in the second hour and even otherwise, after the truth is out in the open, there's not much meat in the story.
Cinematography [Amit Roy] is excellent. The lush green locales of Munnar lend the film a stunning look. Also, the camera movement is truly imaginative. Another technical aspect that deserves a special mention is the background score. It's fantastic!
Amitabh Bachchan is in top form, essaying the role with complete understanding. He emotes through eyes on several occasions, which is the hallmark of an accomplished actor. Newcomer Jiah Khan is supremely confident. Loaded with attitude and sex appeal, the newcomer carries off her part with flourish. Her scenes with Bachchan are superb!
Revathy excels yet again. Nasser is competent. Shraddha Arya is first-rate. Aftab Shivdasani [sp. app.] is adequate.
On the whole, Nishabd will meet with diverse reactions thanks to its bold theme. While a tiny section of moviegoers [elite] may appreciate the effort, the aam junta won't. At the box-office, the film caters to the multiplexes only. But not all multiplexes! A handful of multiplexes of Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and South might register decent business in its opening weekend, but the film will face a tough task in several circuits. Its business at single screens will be poor!