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Saturday, March 3, 2007

Review Nishabd

Cast : Amitabh Bachchan, Jiah Khan
Direction : Ram Gopal Verma
Nishabd meaning wordless. And that’s what this quixotic relationship remains through most of the film. Notwithstanding the fact that this was a relationship that was crying out for words, reasons, explanations, resolutions and articulations for the strange new emotions that were supposedly taking birth for the first time on the Indian screen. Or is it the second time?
Remember Jogger’s Park, that charming little number where Perizaad played a more senior Lolita to Victor Bannerjee. Nishabd is more American Beauty than Lolita with the storyline borrowing heavily from the Kevin Spacey-Mena Suvari Oscar-applauded film. Here, it is Jia who plays the daughter’s friend who stays over and sets strange emotions stirring through the reclusive dad (Amitabh Bachchan).
But unlike director Sam Mendes, Ram Gopal Verma sanitises the film completely of all sexual overtones which would necessarily be a part of such a cross-generational attraction. No, unlike Kevin Spacey who does normal stuff under the sheets, each time he fantasises about the blonde beauty sleeping in his house, Mr Bachchan is rarely seen peeking or throwing a surreptitious glance at the dusky beauty sprawling before him in shorts and see-through skirts.
Okay, then it isn’t physical-sexual. So what is it: the attraction that brings them together? Philosophical, spiritual, psychical, mental, cultural....Don’t know and don’t get to know too. All that we can guess is that Jia, a product of a broken home, with a step dad, succumbs to Oedipus. And Vijay, the forty-year older photographer and family man flips for her hose pipe antics and her Take-Lite poetics. Wish the director had allowed Amitabh a little more fun and foreplay before he became overridden with guilt and depression.
The joyousness and wild abandon of the relationship doesn’t really come through and the resolution of the conflict fills you with much inadequacy. What remains is the camera-friendly and immensely confident Ms Jiah Khan who makes such good use of her body as an instrument of expression. Yes, she’s quite a natural and pitches in a perfect desi Lolita act.
Amitabh is in great form too, specially when the director allows him those brief moments of joy — he’s ticklish playing footsie and does quite a little jig with his little girl — before burdening him with sorrow. Technically too, the film is quintessential Ramu, with the camera working wonders with extreme close shots, the way it did in Sarkar. Only if Ramu had dared to break the mould a bit more and not been wary of the moral police...Ah! Nishabd would have ended up as landmark cinema!

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