Thursday, January 29, 2004



In her directorial debut, Pooja Bhatt captures a beautiful and unexplored part of India—when everybody else flies off to the Alps.

The Amish community of the Harrison Ford starrer Witness is turned into a Buddhist outpost in desolate Spiti Valley, where the leading lady of Paap, swims alone in her rather smart underwear. She is supposed to be leading an isolated, austere existence with her stern father (Mohan Agashe), who wants her to join a monastery, but has the latest hairstyle, perfectly coordinated gown-and-accessory ensembles, skillfully applied eye-make-up and manicured nails. Not to mention an over-active erotic imagination.

Kaaya (Udita Goswami) also seems to be the only young woman around, so she is dispatched to Delhi by the Lama to escort back to the monastery a little boy who is the reincarnation of a spiritual leader. In a hotel toilet the child witnesses a murder of a cop. The killers happen to be senior cops, so Shiven (John Abraham), the officer investigating the case, finds himself wounded and on the run with Kaaya.

Shiven recovers from the bullet wound, as Kaaya tends to him and imagines rather vividly – for one who is not exposed to the outside world— passionate clinches with the shirtless cop. Kaaya’s father shrilly admonishes her and Shiven, though the ‘paap’, if any, is only in her mind. The child disappears abruptly, and is brought back for a hurried climax.

So Paap, is neither a thriller, not a romance—the debate between the worldly and the spiritual, as represented by the two men, is also dealt with at very superficial level and left dangling mid-air. And in how many more films will a character chase the vehicle of a departing lover! Couldn’t Bhatt have come up with a better closing scene!

For a film with a title as tantalizing as Paap, the film is curiously devoid of sensuality—if there is a hint of it, the ‘model’ actors are incapable of expressing it. Finally, the locations and the music of the film are its highlights.


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