Shab movie review: Raveena Tandon in Onir’s darkest film on love and betrayal
Cast: Raveena Tandon, Ashish Bisht, Simon Frenay
Onir explored various shades of issues that have forever been sidelined by the society -- people in homosexual relationships or suffering at the hands of AIDS -- in his previous ventures. This time, the National Award-winning filmmaker delves into the murky world of Delhi and the unconventional relationships that take wing in the shadow of the city’s high-class lifestyle, with Shab. With his brilliant understanding of human emotions, Onir takes a leap into the “forbidden” love stories of the society with his latest venture.
Shab traces the lives of four characters - their personal struggles and love lives. Mohan (Ashish Bisht) is a small-towner who travels from Dhanaulti to Delhi with the hope of becoming a successful model. He is rejected at a talent hunt after being mocked for his “lack of finnese” and is ridiculed for his broken English. One of the judges, however, finds her fantasy in this young man and there starts our first love story. She is Sonal Modi (Raveena Tandon), a rich trophy wife whose husband has no interest in her life. She decides to make Mohan her boy-toy. Meanwhile, Mohan meets Raina (Arpita Chatterjee) and Neel (Areesz Gandii) who appear to be caring, helpful and hard-working people and offer him all the help he needs.
While Neel is recovering from a broken relationship, Raina appears to be mostly concerned about her younger sister’s well-being even as she nurtures some darker secrets.
Onir’s expertise is seen in the way he handles these characters and their stories - his sensible filmmaking is written all over the frames. Even when showing stereotypical mindsets in our society, he makes it a point to balance out the narrow-minded comments by placing sane-minded characters nearby, giving them at least one or two jibes to throw at the prejudiced characters.
Shab is the darkest film Onir has made till date. With the film, he explores the “morally wrong” shades of human relationship without letting the audience hold any judgments - he shows us the emotional turmoils of people in these relationships. Though the reason behind such endeavours is revealed much later in the film, what we get to witness, are the everyday struggles. Of the four main characters, Onir seems to give a bigger window into the hearts of Mohan and Sonal.
Raveena Tandon has given one of her most sensual, brilliant performances in Shab. She manages to bring out every single element of a rich and lonely trophy wife who does not shy away from paying up for the love she desires. She is authoritative, demanding and dominant when Mohan but becomes a loyal, caring wife when sitting beside her husband (Sanjay Suri) in a party. Her last scene, where she is told that her credit card is blocked, is something you will appreciate the most. When asked to pay up later at a hotel, she takes off her jewelry, places them at the counter and tells the man behind the cash counter, “Tell my husband that her wife has kept all this for guarantee”. And the masterstroke comes when she places her heels at the counter as well.
Ashish has an air of innocence about his presence that adds to the credibility of his character and makes his efforts shine through.
Shab is a dark, haunting film about human emotions, relationships, love and betrayal that thrive in a rather opportunistic and materialistic world of Delhi’s elite society.
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