Sunday, January 16, 2005

Vaada & Rog 

When our ‘cut-paste’ directors don’t get to copy a film almost frame by frame, the best they can come with is a Vaada.

Satish Kaushik’s film must be one of the most boring and addled thrillers (of one can call it that) of all time.

The film begins with the suicide of Pooja (Amisha Patel), and the rest is all about who ‘murdered’ her—husband Rahul (Arjun Rampal) or former boyfriend Karan (Zayed Khan).

Rahul married a supposedly famous singer, but after that all she does is dress up and pout. He loses his sight in an accident, and of all people in the world, gets Karan as his business partner. Karan used to be the obsessive lover type who went “to Europe” to make money in order to marry Pooja. He waited tables and drove cabs, but returned after two years in a Merc, only to find his girlfriend married to another man.

The reason for Pooja’s death is quite absurd, but what follows is even more brainless. As a moronic ‘chana’-popping cop bumbles around trying to investigate, Karan is convinced Rahul killed Pooja, and uses childish pranks to try to prove he is not blind. The case goes court, and instead of focusing on whether the woman was murdered or hanged herself, goes on and on about whether Rahul is blind or not. Rather foolish this assumption that a blind man cannot kill if he wants to!

There are too many flaws in the narrative to even start listing them here, but the most jarring is that Pooja lives in a huge, isolated house with just one doddering servant; and when she is stalked by Karan, it doesn’t occur to her to call the cops, but tries to reach her husband who is abroad. How come female characters in films never seem to have friends, relatives, neighbours, security guards or anyone they can turn to for help?

Two blank-faced clotheshorse actors, and one madly hammy Zayed Khan make the film even more unwatchable.


The Bhatts should be given credit for at least one thing – they went all the way back to 1944 to pick up Otto Preminger’s noir thriller Laura with the stunning Gene Tierney in the title role.

Writer Mahesh Bhatt and director Himanshu Brahmbhatt don’t even bother to change the characters from the original, which seems rather quaint now, but not totally outdated. If Rog doesn’t work, it’s because the director is unable to create either the eerie mood or that sense of inexplicable melancholy that was needed; and the biggest problem with this film is that the bland, dull-looking Ilene Hamann simply does not have that overpowering sex appeal that could make you believe that even as a corpse she could haunt men. If just showing yards of skin could be a turn on, every item girl would be a star!

Inspector Uday Rathod (Irrfan Khan), whose loneliness and mental turmoil is established right off with a confession to a shrink in the opening scene, falls in love with a dead woman, (Ilene Hamann) whose murder he is investigating.

Prime suspects are Maya’s boyfriend, the gigolo-like social climber Ali, (Himanshu Malik with all the charm of a rusted nail), her mentor, “famous” journalist Harsh (Suhel Seth playing the part with a whining voice and clownish manner) and her rich socialite aunt (Shyamoli Varma doing a very bad imitation of Nadira).

Uday, despite the warnings of his buddy (Munish Makhija) gets obsessed with the case and falls in love with the dead woman. Revealing more would be a spoiler for the unfortunates who might venture into the film, but whatever happens is as boring as hell.

Irrfan Khan, with his brooding manner and expressive eyes is the only one who carries off his role with conviction, giving it the right amount of madness, humour and pathos. What a pity he wastes prodigious effort in a dead-end film. Just putting rain and thunder in the background and using muted lighting is not enough to create atmosphere. Rog just looks pretentious and it’s tough to tell if the turgid lines are more laughable or the batty performances.


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