Friday, February 22, 2013

A staple from the Bhatt stable

(Published in The New Sunday Express, February 17, 2013)

Cast: Randeep Hooda, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sara Loren, Bugs Bhargava Krishna
Director: Vishesh Bhatt
Rating: 1.5 stars
There are some things you take for granted in a Bhatt production – women are vindictive; men are cheats; cops are idiots; love is obsessive; lust works in the box office. This time round, they cut down on the sleaze quotient, so we only get a glimpse of a topless Sara Loren. And the story is more entertaining and less gimmicky than the usual fare, taken as it is from the Spanish language film La Cara Oculta (The Hidden Face).
However, the film is layered with red herrings and loaded with subplots, and is largely unconvincing. This, of course, anyone who’s familiar with the Murder and Jannat series is prepared for. The film opens with a video from Roshni (Aditi Rao Hydari) to her boyfriend Vikram (Randeep Hooda), saying she’s leaving him. After wallowing in self-pity and alcohol, Vikram decides to get his act together, and encouraged by his boss, D K Bose – yeah, D K Bose, and just in case we miss the in-joke, there’s a gag in the film about that – he decides to pick up the first girl he sees (Sara Loren).
The film is soaked in kitsch from the start, introducing its titles with a drop of blood in a washbasin morphing into horror-friendly font. Naturally, we’re first taken to a foreign locale – in this case, South Africa. The fact that we start off in South Africa has no relevance, except that Vikram is a failing wildlife photographer. Somehow, he becomes a sought-after fashion photographer in Mumbai, with enough money to buy an isolated, spooky house. This gives us the perfect setting for a psychological thriller spun around a love triangle.
Perhaps the filmmakers should have borrowed the dialogue from the Colombian film too, because this is what really lets the film down. It’s watchable as long as it’s breaking into songs at the slightest excuse. It’s watchable when windows rattle and taps whisper and electricity flickers. But when the characters begin to talk, one wishes one didn’t understand the language. Stuffed with macho lines and loaded statements, the dialogue is distractingly laboured.
Unexpectedly, some of the minor characters are memorable. Bugs Bhargava and Shekar Shukla are flawless with their comic timing. Randeep Hooda, who has, unfortunately for an actor of his calibre, starred in more than anyone’s fair share of Bhatt films, does what he can within the limitations of the script. However, the few thrills in the film are ruined by some terrible acting from the female leads. Pakistani actress Sara Loren is the comic relief, often unintentionally. Her screams and feints induce more giggles than either empathy or fear. Aditi Rao Hydari struggles to fit into a character that has not only been badly written, but burdened with silly lines.
The Verdict: To its credit, Murder 3 keeps us entertained throughout – when we’re not involved in the plot, we’re laughing at it.

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