Friday, July 16, 2004


A nerd with a nagging mother from hell, neighbours who make fun of him, the bimbette next door who doesn’t look at him. Vishnu Prasad (Tusshar) is the kind of guy who has doors slammed in his face as he stutters with a water filter sales spiel, and ends up paying damages for accident he hasn’t even caused.

His middle class home with hen-pecked father (Raghuvir Yadav, excellent) and shrieking mother (Rasika Joshi, overacting) does not provide refuge from the cruelties of existence.  Vishnu needs a break and gets it from a mysterious idol that grants his wish to vanish.   Gayab, directed by Prawaal Raman (of the delightfully quirky Darna Mana Hai) works very well up to a point and Tusshar is perfectly cast as the loser.  But after he becomes invisible, the film could have gone in so many exciting directions –comedy, adventure, crime.  None of the above—the director (and co-writer with Suresh Nair and Kona Venkat) takes it into the territory of a soppy love story.

For this to work, the girl in question has to be a stunner.  And the route the guy takes to win her affections has to be touching or funny. Again none of the above;  Mohini (Antara Mali) is the badly dressed, outrageously made-up airhead, who simpers and strikes poses even when she is alone at home watching TV!  She is dating a US-returned ‘dude’ Sameer (Raman Trikha), who gets the worst of Vishnu’s mean streak when he turns invisible.
The treatment of the post-invisibility treatment is very childish,  yet not even the kind of humour that would appeal to children. At the same time, to make the movie attractive to adults,  there is no elaboration on Vishnu’s emotions when this very strange and scary thing happens to him. All his concentration suddenly focuses on getting Mohini.

When he robs a bank and then gets increasingly desperate to woo her,  instead of dark humour the film resorts to silly gags like pulling down people’s pants!

Pietro Zuercher's camerawork and the special effects (Prime Focus) are good but standard issue – objects flying in the air, Vishnu’s clothes appearing to dance, etc.

Films like Mr X,  Mr X in Bombay, Mr India,  Memoirs of an Invisible Man, and others had taken a far more amusing trip down this road.  Insipid music, badly placed and indifferently picturized songs (one in which Antara Mali’s navel takes on a life of its own!) drag the movie down further.  Still, Gayab is better than idiotic campus romps and dull cop capers that dot the Bollywood landscape. 


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