Khoya Khoya Chand
Cast: Shiney Ahuja, Soha Ali Khan
Director: Sudhir Mishra
Mind you, she has gone through the grind. Pray, who hasn’t? Nikhat, a black-and-white era actress, gives you mega-stress. Is she absolutely fictional? Or does she have shades of Madhubala (suffering from a hole in the heart)? Meena Kumari (addicted to the bottle)? Or is she Sharmila Tagore (dig that Evening in Paris hair-twirl)? Whatever.
Really, it’s all so mysterious that you’re delirious. Sudhir Mishra’s Khoya Khoya Chand, a take on Bombay’s moviedom circa the late 1950s, is well-intentioned and painstakingly researched (although a portrait of Raakhee in the backdrop suggests a gaffe, not to forget still-to-be-coined terms like ‘superstar’ and ‘item hai’). So uncool, boss.
<b1>Still, you want to hug Mishra for the Herculean effort invested in the recreation of the period atmosphere – be it in the display of vintage cars, walnut wood furniture and dainty cups-`n’-saucers. But heavens, it’s raining clichés here.
Take the goose which hates to lay the golden eggs; the Gulzaresque writer who turns director; the stud hero (Rajat Kapur, ha ha ha); the invisible sister and brother with mounting school education bills; the fatty producer in white smoking non-filters; Chor Bazaar-style gramophones; curly hair and curlier tempers. Stop,stop.
Anyone with affection for the golden era of the movies will testify that show business, with all its warts and frailties, wasn’t as simplistic or sappy as this. There were no premieres at the Regal of the laughable Ishq and Jung as depicted here. How about allusions to Mother India, Pyaasa, Do Aankhen Barah Haath instead?
As it happens, the only sane voice belongs to Zafar (Shiney Ahuja) who writes and eventually directs an autobiographical movie. Are we talking Mahesh Bhatt? Maybe not. Because it flops big time. Zabardast Zafar, shaken, takes off to London to pose against the Big B (Ben for those who came in late).
Meanwhile, Goose Begum (Soha Ali Khan) continues to support mum, boyfriend (mum’s that is), brother, sister, wigs, studs. And she keeps appearing on Filmfare covers which blares shocking headlines. How stardusty is that? Mishra’s got his magazines mixed up.
<b2>Quack.Goose Begum, like the screenplay, often doesn’t know where to go. She hurls stones (literally) at the office of a pedophilic filmmaker, cancels a nikaah as if it were a dental appointment..and vallah sits like Miss Muffet on a tuffet watching Zafar grunt-`n’-groan in bed with a Miss Ratnamala. Goose needs a shrink but so do Zafar, Ratnamala..never mind.
Shantanu Moitra’s music score is melodic. Mishra doesn’t want to make a potboiler for sure. Trouble is that the unconventional has to appeal to the mind and dare one say, also to the heart? Like his excellent Hazaaron Khwaishen Aisi did.
Of the cast, Sonya Jahan as Garam Ratnamala, is remarkably confident and sensuous. Shiney Ahuja, tackling a difficult part, is consistently skillful, even if he tends to act like director Mishra at points.
Like it or not, Soha Ali Khan is hopelessly miscast.The role required at least one per cent of what Smita Patil gave to Bhumika. Ms Khan may be sincere but not mature enough to make you care about this Soya Soya Chand.