Mahesh Bhatt is out to exorcise the demons of onetime flame Parveen Babi. That — and that alone — gives Woh Lamhe a box-office edge. Page 3 gossip is always fodder for spice. And if the essence is autobiographical purgation on the part of a motor mouth film mogul whose credo has forever been ‘tell-all’, what more do you want?
Bhatt has made a couple of right choices to begin with. The first is his lead pair of Shiney Ahuja and Kangana Ranaut, whom he brings back from Anurag Basu’s acclaimed Gangster.
And the second is signing Mohit Suri as director. The Bhatt camp protege did show some flair in his earlier attempts, Zeher and Kalyug.
Broadly, Woh Lamhe is a love story. Where Suri succeeds primarily is in lifting the film a few notches above the predictable fare one would expect when one thinks ‘love story’ in the Bollywood context.
|Kangna Ranaut and Shiney Ahuja in a still from Woh Lamhe.|
The film goes beyond the Bhatt-Babi tales that ruled Mumbai’s cocktail circuit and tabloid pages in the seventies, deftly exploring the darker sides of a relationship that revelled in its own glitz. Kangana is Sana Azim — movie superstar to the world, loner wracked with her own pangs in private.One evening hotshot filmmaker Aditya Garewal (Shiney) gets the news of her attempted suicide. Sana and Aditya shared a torrid affair once, till she vanished from his life. As Aditya waits outside the ICU hoping Sana lives, their tale of love unfolds by way of flashback.
While the film does have its share of poignant moments, there is one hitch: the narrative is a tad slow — almost to the point of exasperation at times. To Suri’s credit however, he has handled the basically emotional affair well. Not once does Woh Lamhe go over the top.
Also, the director cashes in on the advantage of having two talented actors to keep things going. If Kangana gets an author-backed role, she exploits it well to prove that her Gangster show was no fluke. Shiney has already been acknowledged as one of the more promising actors in the industry after Hazaaron Khwahishen Aisi and Gangster. He lives up to expectations once more. Scriptwise, Woh Lamhe may belong to Kangana. If Shiney still makes a dent, it is due to the sheer ease with which he essays the complex Aditya.
Woh Lamhe may not fit into the average cinegoer’s definition of ‘timepass’. Still, the film qualifies as one of the better executed masala attempts this year.