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REVIEW: Wet a way to go

Big B is in top form in Nishabd, so poised that he dignifies a schizophrenically written character, writes Khalid Mohamed.
None | By Khalid Mohamed, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 02, 2007 07:28 PM IST

Amitabh Bachchan, Jiah Khan
Direction: Ram Gopal Varma
Rating: **1/2

Get this: he looks at her and drools, his eyes like lust pools. So, is he just about to commit one of those ek hi bhools?

Unless, you’ve been in the Himalayas or the Hebrides during the last few months, you know Ram Gopal Varma keNishabd is about a girl in a laundry-fresh white shirt who licks a lollipop right in front of a man old enough to be her grandpop. O dada re dada.

Bold? Quite, especially if you are still naïve enough to believe that such sexual distractions are not in consonance with Indian values. Mr Varma wants to spin a yarn about how age has nothing to do with go on, director sir, let’s hear you out..but er..rightaway since practically everyone in your movie yaks their heads off, why call it Nishabd?

Tsk, never mind. To put it plainly this generation gap rap is a mixed blessing. Thematically, the plot’s fairly progressive and for starters, as riveting as a beer-bikini calendar. You’re hooked: a leg-flaunting Lolita ki grand-daughter is out there in picturesque Munnar, seducing a still photographer who clix pix of mountain tops and probably has them published in the Pahadi Geographic.

She’s the lovely-`n’-leggy Jiah (Ditto Khan); he’s India’s very own Vijay Cartier-Bresson (Amitabh Bachchan). Cool, she’s infatuated and it’s all because of her parents who divorced. Uh huh. So obviously she desires a father figure in every man she encounters, except of course a chipko louse (Aftab Shivdasani in a special disappearance) whom she treats like Mickey Mouse.

So far, so daring, so sensitive. Our Cartier- Bresson sir singing, laughing uncontrollably and finding that he’s hopelessly in love, is entirely plausible. But hello, then all the tea bushes in the vicinity quiver with fright. Such is the consequence of one illicit night -- or was it just a peck on the lips? Next: the kitchen-bound wife (Revathy, not convincing) and enraged daughter (Shraddha Vyas, passable) break into tears exhausting India’s entire stock of glycerine drops.

As much as the first-half of this 12-reeler is engaging, the latter section is a sob opera that defies logic. Mr Old cries copiously too. However, shockingly his brother-in-law (Nasser) is quite pleased about the family crisis, indicating that he had probably committed a thousand such indiscretions. Also, why such clichéd touches like a pressure cooker firing steam at a tension-fraught moment. Ooof.

The bids at pop psychology (camera pans to a poster saying Daddy) and those seismic eruptions of guilt, while a manic flute blasts the soundtrack, eventually make the daring-do pointless. There are more shades of American Beauty here than Lolita.

Amit Roy’s cinematography is marvellous, the production design and the Varmaesque dips into hand-held and Steadicam shots are striking.The trouble is that he gives you an adult story that finally doesn’t have the courage to stand by its convictions.

Of the cast, Amitabh Bachchan is in top form, so poised that he dignifies a somewhat schizophrenically written character. Often, he cements the crumbling script. As for newcomer Jiah Khan, she is sensational, far more assured than the heroines who’re fidgeting around even after years of experience. She goes for the difficult and often taunting part, no-inhibitions-barred. Silver lining: a star is born is at least. Take a walk right now, Mallika Sherawatji.

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