Friday, December 09, 2011


Another Ravan

The setting is small town Uttar Pradesh, for once not a fictional town, but a real one-- Bijnor.  It’s the kind of place where machismo rules and women cower; violence and corruption is a part of everyday life. Nothing seems to move, yet there is always tension seething below the surface. This is what Maqbool Khan tries to capture in his Lanka, with limited success. 

The inspiration is Vibhishan from the Ramayan,  Raavan’s brother who went over to the other side, giving rise to the saying  Ghar ka bhedi Lanka dhaaye.  But in effect, the film is more like Koyla without the melodrama and Omkara without ever reaching that Shakespearean scale of drama, passion or tragedy. It skims tiredly over the surface, as if aware that it can spring no surprises, as cops, politicians, dons and their henchmen go on killing sprees. The only one who could have made a difference is the woman, who instigates and inspires, but she is the weakest element of the story.

Jaswant Sisodia (Manoj Bajpayee) or Bhaisaheb rules the town with a feudal firmness. He has also forced a local doctor Anju (Tia Bajpai) into a kind of captivity, to which she and her family helplessly succumb.  His logic is that if he doesn’t protect her, the rest of the town will tear her apart.  This is a major flaw in the script—Anju is a doctor, her family is not poor or helpless; if they couldn’t get the cops to help them, she could at least escape Bhaisaheb’s clutches by leaving the place.

She appeals to one of Bhaisaheb’s aides (Arjan Bajwa) for help, but his loyalty make him passive.  The character is made to stand around staring expressionlessly,  which doesn’t exactly convey his inner dilemma.  A cop (Manish Chaudhary) hovers trying to find someone to testify against Bhaisaheb, and in another big flaw of the film, the cops do nothing to protect the witnesses in such an important case.

So the film plods on to a predictable end, while its slow pace forces the audience to keep waiting for something to happen and by the time the ‘Vibhishan’ moves you are past caring.  Manoj Bajpayee is the only good actor among the lot, so the difference in the level of performance is glaring.   


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