ravings, rantings and ramblings
Thank you Vishal Bhardwaj.
There is a lot of that to do. 7 Khoon Maaf is like the perfect pop corn-cola combo of a good story meets good direction. Vishal Bhardwaj’s production looks and smells as international as a Christopher Nolan production (I haven’t a clue if VB would take it as a compliment or otherwise). There is a certain age to this film. It is almost like saying that there is a purpose in making a film and telling a story as opposed to a lot of films that lack in this department like a vitamin deficiency. The film opens on a gory note and to an aged Priyanka Chopra. You can tell from a batsman’s stance on how well he might do that day. With just the film opening, one could see the film coloration, make up and lighting speak volumes of the careful and meticulous eye to detail. Distinctly a VB production. Thank you Vishal Bhardwaj.
A good film needs a good story. Vishal picks up a story by our very own Ruskin Bond. Our desi Mr Bond is no less virile in his writing prowess than his namesake. I remember rueing that Delhi University changed it’s literature curriculum a few years after I passed out wherein they introduced selected Indian writers, including Ruskin Bond. This is not Ruskin Bond’s story’s first outing on films. Before Bhardwaj, Merchant Ivory made Junoon, adapted from his novel The Flight of Pigeons. Now Susanna’s Seven Husbands is screen-adapted as SKM. Susanna is a beautiful Anglo-Indian woman who kills her of her seven husbands. I did think of Liz Taylor for a brief bit, but the connection might not seem relevant. Oh! And one gets to see a small glimpse of the writer, Ruskin Bond himself in this film. So, thank you Vishal Bhardwaj.
A good story needs good actors to carry the film off. And good actors there were. The central figure in this film belongs to Susanna, very ably played by Priyanka Chopra. PC has come a long way and picked up the tricks of the trade pretty well. She certainly did a commendable role, carrying the film on her toned but frail shoulders, considering she did not have a male counterpart holding on for too long. She kept killing them. SKM spends many years in the life of Susanna from when she was a nubile 20-something to when the film ends with her greying to a 60-something. Her demeanour and body language certainly portrayed that. Now for the poor husbands. Quite a mix of actors and almost-actors in this category. Where on one hand, there were strong and seasoned actors like Irrfan Khan, Annu Kapoor and the textbook on acting, Naseerudin Shah himself, there also were John Abraham and Neil Nitin Mukesh. Vishal Bhardwaj proved that he could make actors of almost-actors when you see these two on-screen. John is fine, from a non-descript choir singer to a grunged and doped out Axl Rose look-alike rock star. Neil will seriously need some acting tips. Irrfan will make your skin crawl, Annu Kapoor will tickle your sides and Naseer will surprise you. SKM also saw Naseer’s youngest son Vivaan Shah who had his screen moments apart from being the narrator in the film. A surprise cameo by Konkona Sen Sharma was delightful. As were the cameos by Ruskin Bond and my favourite Indian entertainer and songstress Usha Uthup. It was so good to see her on-screen. Thank you Vishal Bhardwaj.
The film also has the most entertaining interval. Not revealing that here. Go and see it. Thank you Vishal Bhardwaj.
This dark comedy was very well-directed by Vishal Bhardwaj. On hind-sight, that statement looks very insipid. All I can say is that I look forward to waching films made by Vishal. He has something different to offer each time. And that is what makes his films most awaited and entertaining to watch. Glad that VB has moved on from his Shakespearean storylines. Glad that this is not another cow-belt film but based somewhere in the hilly northern part of India. I must say that parts of the film bore a strong resemblance to Tornatore’s romantic Italian film starring the eternal Monica Bellucci – Malena. Let me brush aside Bellucci’s image here… I might totter. A lot of detail went into Priyanka’s appearance as the story spanned almost 40 odd years. VB got in touch with the special make-up effects from Hollywood who made a chimp out of Brad Pit in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And darling, the good work shows. Watch old Priyanka’s skin and her sagging body as she grows old. Just so pleased to see a product, made so meticulously. Thank you Vishal Bhardwaj.
Music has always been another strong-point for VB. As a radio presenter, I am tripping playing out Usha Uthup’s strong vocals in ‘Darling’! What surprised me was VB’s wife Rekha Bhardwaj lending her rustic voice for this upbeat number. Super stuff. KK shines with ‘O Mama’ and Master Saleem pierces your heart with ‘Awaara‘. Pay attention to the lyrics and they will smell of Gulzar. Thank you Vishal Bhardwaj.
The verdict: 7 Khoon Maaf might not be a huge commercial success. Well, in all likelihood, it won’t. But Saat Khoon Maaf will definitely strike a chord with the discerning film-goer. For those, who did not like this film, may I suggest Nikhil Advani’s Patiala House?