On the Screen
Film: Zakhm (Hindi)
Director: Mahesh Bhatt
Cast: Ajay Devgan, Pooja Bhatt, Sonali Bendre, Kunal Khemu, Akshay Anand and Ashutosh Rana
THERE’S one problem with these ‘national integration’ movies: The characters are either cloyingly sweet or venomously vicious, be it Hindu, Muslim or Sikh. There are no grey shades at all.
Mahesh Bhatt’s Zakhm does little to change this trend. In fact, it merely grazes through the disharmony that strikes Bombay after the Babri Masjid riots, not probing deep into the Hindu-Muslim psyche.
The film opens with Ajay Desai’s (Ajay Devgan) mother (Pooja Bhatt) being set afire by a frenzied Muslim mob outside a church. Ajay’s brother Anand is the right-hand man of a Hindu fundamentalist leader Subodh (Rana), who is forever ready to incite passions.
In the hospital, Ajay recalls his mother’s anguish as we learn how his parents were not legally married, how Ajay was shunned by all and how his father ‘was forced to’ marry another woman.
We also learn that Ajay’s mother was a Muslim and that she put on the garb of a Hindu as she did not want to let go of her love. She’s got one wish: That she be buried, not cremated. But when she dies, Subodh asks Ajay to bury the issue. Or, there would be bloodshed, he warns. Ajay’s own brother sides with Subodh, unable to come to grips with the fact that his mother was indeed a Muslim. How Ajay fulfils his mother’s wish makes for the rest of the movie. The film is good in snatches, but overall disappointing, even superfluous. The story moves forward in flashbacks, but it doesn’t grip you despite the strong storyline. Music is subdued.
Pooja, Ajay and even the usually-dumb Sonali come up with controlled performances. Yet it is sad that the director of the brilliant Saaransh chose to hang his gloves with Zakhm. It really hurts. —
Film:Kaadal Kavithai (Tamil)
Starring: Prashanth, Isha Koppikar, Kasturi
AGATHIYAN, who shot to national fame with the brilliant Tamil film Kaadal kottai and bagged the national award as the best director, is still having a hangover. His latest, curiously titled Kadaal Kavithai, almost follows in the same lines--young lovers who know each other well but are unable to figure out that they are in love.
Theirs is not love at first sight. Prashanth is the son of a millionaire businessman but with a nagging mother at home, he turns out to be an escapist--he likes to spend his day as a commonman, cycling around the city, eating in roadside dhabas and fooling around with gullible girls. Isha, a members of a cultural troupe, is one of his victims and though she tries to keep out of his way, she often ends up crossing his path.
By chance both go to London but narrowly miss each other at Diana memorial. He leaves a flower bouquet with a few lines of poetic tribute for the late princess in Tamil. Isha who follows him is bowled over by the Tamil verse and she in turn leaves another note appreciating his effort.
Both continue this lyrical correspondence without knowing who the other person is. Both fall in love--more with their lyrical talent. As in Kaadal Kottai, here also it is romance through letters. A planned meeting fails to take place and Prashanth returns to India a disappointed man and then begins his search for his dream girl. Back home she is also on the look-out for this mysterious person.
Then there is Kasturi, the ‘human viagra’who tries to seduce Prashanth. In fact, the only attractive song of the film is her dream song, shot in beautiful locales in Morocco. Ravi Yadav, the cinematographer, does a wonderful job taking us on a conducted tour of London and its suburbs and Ilayaraja chips in with a brilliant mix of the western and oriental music.
Agathiyan wastes a lot of footage in the beginning with many unnecessary, disjointed scenes. There is also a song which features Roja which makes no sense. The film only begins after an hour when the scene shifts to Diana memorial. The first 45 minutes could have been edited out.
Prashanth and Isha (for whom this is the second film) perform well and Prashanth, especially after his Jeans has matured as an actor. The sooner Agathiyan gets out of this hangover, the better for him.