Saturday, May 21, 2005

Eyes Eyes 


If our filmmakers have to rip off foreign films, why not pick better ones? Naina, directed by first timer Shripal Morakhia, uses Korean horror flick Jian Gui (The Eye), as its source. Though it is technically superior to most horror films made in Mumbai, it is ultimately too predictable and formulaic.

Using the ridiculous premise—rightly objected to by eye doctors—that transplanted body parts carry something of their original owners, the blind Naina (Urmila Matondkar) starts getting scary visions when she receives a corneal transplant. (Isn’t it the norm to use just one cornea per person? And with a shortage of eye donors in India, why would healthy corneas be sent to a recipient in the UK? But put questions aside….)

The horror tap is turned on full force as Naina starts seeing dead people, gets the power to predict death and also terrifying nightmares. Her doctor, Sameer (Anuj Sawhney) thinks that the sudden gift of sight is causing her mental disturbances.

The first half of the film uses standard horror tricks, creepy cadavers, startling sound effects and a wildly screaming Naina; the second half when she goes to Bhuj to solve the mystery gets the story moving towards the big climax, which turns out to be grand in execution but disappointing in content.

In many places, director Morakhia revels, rather sadistically in sickening the audience, rather than frightening them – or why the grisly visuals of charred corpses and such?

Still, Naina is gripping in most part, and quite a good debut effort. Urmila Matondkar is undoubtedly Bollywood’s scream queen – it takes guts to keep doing such roles, especially since all those facial contortions are most unflattering. Anuj Sawhney is a good-looking prop. None of the other actors have much scope. Horror film buffs would go for this one.


The fact that publicity stunts do not always result in ticket sales, is proved by the half empty theatre for Soni Razdan’s Nazar. Pakistani actress Meera got a lot of media mileage out of alleged threats by fundamentalists in her country for a non-existent kiss in the film, and for her self-appointed title of Pakistan’s Aishwarya Rai…. didn’t work with Indian audiences.

A bit of The Eyes of Laura Mars, a dash of Jian Gui (The Eye), but the end result is a tired horror thriller, which Meera is unable to pull off by herself.

She plays Divya, a singer, who stops on a lonely street to help a wounded girl and next thing she knows, she is getting visions of bar dancers being murdered by a serial killer. The gritty cop Sujata (Koel Purie) assigned to the case thinks Meera is mad, but her long-haired cohort Rohan (Ashmit Patel), thinks there’s ESP at work and might lead to the killer.

Divya’s doctor (Aly Khan), already rather taken in by her, throws tantrums but can’t stop the romance between her and the cop. When a female tantric (Neena Gupta) and an old whore (Sarita Joshi, terrific in just one scene), give Meera clues as to where the story is headed, the audience can’t wait to get it over with and get out.

This sort of thing, not fresh or particularly entertaining to begin with, might work up to a point, if the female doing all the running, eye-popping and screaming is suitably helpless and can win audience sympathy. Not only does Meera fail in the looks department (despite the layers of make-up), she is a very bad actress and graceless dancer.

The only one whose performance counts for anything in Nazar is Koel Purie, despite the lisp and ugly red lipstick. The songs in most Bhatt films are chartbusters, but here Anu Malik’s music is a let down too.

Razdan tries very hard to pile on the gore—scalpels flash, blood spurts all over the place, but frankly it’s all quite boring. The identity of the killer does come as a surprise, but along with it a politically correct ‘moral’ is a bit much to take.

Shabnam Mousi

Based on the true story of a eunuch’s political rise in Madhya Pradesh, Yogesh Bharadwaj’s Shabnam Mousi is a good attempt to deal with an offbeat subject. But a little less bombast and more sensitivity would have been better for the cause – which is to tell people that eunuchs should be treated as human beings.

Ashutosh Rana does a fine job as the hijra who stands for the triumph of the human spirit. Except for a couple of films like Sadak and Tamanna, eunuchs are usually mocked and derided in films and Rana makes sure his performance does not turn the character into a caricature.


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