Friday, February 22, 2013

Cinematic homicide

(Published in The Sunday Guardian, on February 17, 2013, retrieved from http://www.sunday-guardian.com/masala-art/cinematic-homicide)


Cast: Randeep Hooda, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sara Loren
Director: Vishesh Bhatt
Rating: 1.5 stars
Not since the Ramsay Brothers’ spate of low-budget horror porn has anyone in Bollywood combined sex and suspense with success. And then, the Bhatt family got into the act, with higher budgets, more exotic locales, better-looking actors, and more skin show. In Murder 3, the “official” remake of the Colombian film La Cara Oculta (The Hidden Face), the scion of the family proves that the Bhatt penchant for sleaze and sentiment can ruin even a tight thriller.
The film is an almost scene-by-scene copy of the original. However, the hero of the film isn’t a violinist here – he’s a wildlife and fashion photographer. Yes, wildlife and fashion. Only the Bhatts could marry those two. So, Vikram (Randeep Hooda) lives in South Africa, where ostriches, zebras, cheetahs and all manner of animals obligingly gather together and tamely pose for his camera. Despite all that, and his claims of being a brilliant photographer, he’s always broke. Challo Mumbai, where he shoots white-skinned women climbing all over each other. Suddenly, he can afford a creepy house in the middle of a forest.
The rest of the film follows the Bhatt house rules. There’s a grand misunderstanding, a practical joke goes wrong, and then things get scary. Throw in the revenge of several lovers scorned, and the protectiveness of a jilted lover who can’t let go, and you’re left with the ashes of a potentially engaging thriller.
Perhaps in an attempt to shed their sleaze tag, the Bhatts have cut down on the erotica here. Sadly for the viewers, the heaving and panting is replaced by weeping and wailing. The dialogue is as asinine as usual, but now, there are random avowals of love and impromptu lovers’ fights and the obligatory makeup sex.  Sara Loren, playing a masochistic waitress, has no qualms with taking off her clothes, and this allows the filmmakers to put in several bathtub and shower scenes.
One feels sorry for Aditi Rao Hydari, who puts more effort into her acting than this film deserves, and ends up hamming her way through her role. Randeep Hooda does what he always does in the Bhatt films – he plays Vikram with a stoic face, exercising much restraint with his histrionic skills and none with his amorous.
There are pluses in this film – for one, there’s no Emraan Hashmi. For another, the storyline is stronger than usual, supplied as it is by another film.
The Verdict: We’ve seen worse from the Bhatts, but that isn’t saying much, is it?


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