Saturday, June 17, 2006



It may be different for Hindi films, but the plot of Alag has been lifted from Powder (1995), so Ashu Trikha (responsible for such duds as Deewanapan and Sheesha) gets no points for effort.

The idea of a boy gifted with superpowers has so much potential, but Trikha’s treatment of the story has no humour, poignancy, thrill, fantasy, romance—it’s bland and often ridiculous. The subplot about a mad scientist (Tom Alter) for instance—what’s that all about?

Tejas (Akshay Kapoor) is born with strange powers, as a result of which his father (Yatin Karyekar) keeps him imprisoned in a dark dungeon. (The problem of his sensitivity to light is easily solved by dark glasses, didn’t the dad know?) When the father dies Tejas is taken to a centre for young delinquents (why not a mental or scientific institution?) by Purva (Dia Mirza), whose father Pushkar Rana (Jayant Kripalani) runs it.

At the centre, the other boys make fun of Tejas because he is bald, and his demonstration of his powers—by attracting all the spoons in the cafeteria on to his table, or causing a hunter to experience the dying throes of a bird he has shot—seems to have no effect on them.

At the centre, Rana yells at him because he is so smart, and Purva falls in love with him, but nobody seems to have an interest in him, otherwise. There is no attempt to understand his mind or channelise his powers.

Actually it’s not quite clear just what kind of power Tejas has—electronic gadgets go on the blink when he is around, he attracts lightning, he talks to birds, he reads people’s thoughts, he gets Purva’s mother out of a coma, he is obviously telekinetic …. Trika turns the boy’s powers into special effects ‘items’ but has no insights in how exactly to deal with them.

Intermittently, he wakes up to the fact that this is a commercial film, however ‘alag’ he may try to make it, and pushes in a song. There’s one tapori dance number soon after a boy’s death caused by Tejas, which is actually in bad taste because of its placement.

The mad scientist, declaring that he is the “biggest genius in the universe” tries to use Tejas for his experiments, so that he can discover the cure (how?) to epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and find a way to make “idiots turn smart.” Actors say all this so seriously that they get unintended laughs. Which is better that falling asleep out of sheer boredom.

Akshay Kapoor, must have tried his best to make something of the character (he did, presumably, shave his head and eyebrows and wax his body), but the expression he wears most of the time is that of a guy holding back a sneeze!


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