Sunday, December 16, 2007



The director of Strangers has vehemently denied that this film is a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Strangers on a Train. It may not be a remake, but it definitely inspired from the old film, and after the brilliant plot has been picked, there’s not much else that the director can add to it, except a rather forced twist at the end. It’s like claiming to have a built a new house, when all you’ve done is change the paint and upholstery in an old one.

As every film buff would know, Strangers on a Train was about a man who proposes a ‘murder exchange’ to a man he meets in a train—the very sound logic being that the cops won’t be able to pin a murder rap on a killer with no clear motive.

Rai sets up two men – businessman Sanjeev Rai (Kay Kay Menon) and failed writer – chatting in a train. They are both Indians in the UK, so there’s some kind of bond. The stories of their relationships with their wives (Sonali Kulkarni-Nandana Sen) are revealed in flashbacks, as they are both unhappy in their marriages.

Sanjeev’s wife is mentally disturbed after the death of their son, and Rahul suspects his wife of infidelity. Very smoothly, Sanjeev proposes that they kill each other’s wives, but of course, it isn’t as simple as that.

Rai doesn’t have Hitchcock’s flair for nail-biting sequences—like the famous fairground and tennis match scenes in the original. Many filmmakers may have borrowed the plot, but none managed a masterpiece—Rai doesn’t either.

His film is slick, and well-shot, but one can’t shake Hitchcock out of the mind, not to mention the discomfiting misogyny— how easily wives become dispensable, and why isn’t divorce an option in this day and age.

The performances are fine—Kay Kay Menon’s cool menace and Nandana Sen’s helplessness, Jimmy Sheirgill overacting a bit, as always.

Not exactly unmissable-- and if our filmmakers keep having to go back to old American or Indian films for ideas, what’s the new multiplex wave worth?


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