Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Anatomy of a murderer

(Published in The Friday Times, Lahore, on March 1, 2013 retrieved from http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta3/tft/article.php?issue=20130301&page=20)

Cast: Randeep Hooda, Aditi Rao Hydari, Sara Loren, Bugs Bhargava Krishna, Shekar Shukla, Rajesh Shingarpore
Director: Vishesh Bhatt
Rating: 1.5 stars
The first thing that made me laugh about Murder 3 was the dedication the preceded the film: “To the loving and caring Choti Aunty.” Now, this semi-pornographic, semi-gory film makes sense as a tribute only if Choti Aunty was a vampire, ghost, or paedophile.
One may sum up Murder 3 thus – the first half plays out like a horror thriller, the second half plays out like the copy of a foreign film (which indeed it is), and throughout, everyone has a lot of sex. The film is the “official remake” of the Colombian film La Cara Oculta(The Hidden Face). Remakes, as Bollywood understands it, are scene-by-scene re-enactments, with aching songs thrown in, accompanied by histrionic gestures and random welling up.
This film, though, is practically a Bollywood-Lollywood collaboration. Between them, Shafqat Amanat Ali and Mustafa Zahid have sung four of the seven aching songs. It isn’t their fault, of course, that the flavour of each song is lost in long car rides through sunny, grassy fields, and meaningless, expressionless hugs. But the real manifestation of Lollywood’s presence is Sara Loren, formerly Mona Lizza, formerly whatever she was before she called herself ‘Mona Lizza’.
Naturally, any film starring two women and Randeep Hooda mandates that he must have meaningless, expressionless sex with both. We begin in South Africa, where Vikram (Hooda) is a wildlife photographer, who’s so broke he proposes to his girlfriend with the seal of a bottle. And Roshni (Aditi Rao Hydari) is so dumb she not only accepts the proposal, but gives up a career in architecture that presumably provides them both with enough money to go frolicking about in convertibles, so that she can follow him to Mumbai.
Now, Vikram was in South Africa to shoot jungle animals. Why has he moved to Mumbai? To, as he says soulfully later, shoot city animals. These animals turn out to be firangi models in lingerie. And yet, when his girlfriend ups and outs, leaving behind a video farewell, Vikram goes and picks up a waitress. Yes, a waitress at a bar where he regularly gets drunk. And this waitress, Nisha Sengupta, is played by Sara Loren.
Of course, good girls don’t go to bed with strangers. This requires them to fall in love before he can say ‘Nisha Sengupta’. Well, before he can even figure out what her surname is, because he doesn’t know when two cops (Shekar Shukla and Rajesh Shingarpore) come looking for Roshni, or her remains, at the house, the morning after he and Nisha, umm, fall in love.
Ah, the house. So, it’s this mansion built by the parents of a bizarrely dressed British/ Anglo-Indian woman who plays counsellor to Roshni, when she’s worried Vikram is cheating on her with someone in the fashion industry. She’s selling the house, set in the comforting surroundings of a forest filled with wild animals whose mating calls send shivers down the spines of its residents. Architect Roshni loves the house. Waitress Nisha is certain it’s haunted.
The dialogues are so bad that the most sincere of them will send the audience into hysterics. They’re suitably accompanied by terrible acting. Hooda, a usually excellent actor who has somehow found favour with the Bhatt family, is now a veteran of Vishesh Films and knows exactly what to do to draw least attention to himself – stay expressionless, and bed naked women.
Now, for the naked women. Sara Loren pouts her way through everything – serving drinks, driving drunks home, brushing her teeth, having sex, hearing her lover refer to her as a ‘friend’. Hell, she even pouts when the cop with a fetish for wearing leather suspenders (Rajesh Shingarpore), who conveniently turns out to be her ex-boyfriend, comes to her bar to warn her away from Vikram. But since she’s the sort of idiot who’ll treat a bed like a trampoline moments after being spooked, we’d rather she pouts than acts. She also has an aversion to wearing trousers, even when only the servant is around, but, oh well. Aditi Rao Hydari hams her way through the film, bawling when she weeps, hooting when she laughs, and giggling when she’s doing neither.
There’s some assertion of equality between men and women, felt most keenly when Vikram gets annoyed with a girlfriend for not giving him enough time to get ready for his big night – an exhibition of his photographs. One must also admit the twist in the film, borrowed as it is from another one, is a good one. However, its execution is vintage Bhatt.
The good thing about this film is that it entertains with its imbecility.

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