After weeks of releases where even the failures were interesting, Bollywood dumps on us a couple of hysterical stinkers.
MAR 11, 2007 – THERE ARE ONLY TWO â count âem two â instances of anything remotely clever in Red, and one is the fact that Neel (Aftab Shivdasani) has a hole in his heart and he spends his days glancing at his wristwatch, at the time he has left. (Get it? His life revolves around… tickers.) The other moment comes when Neel gets well, and he looks up information about a woman (Anahita, played by Celina Jaitley) whoâs recently lost her husband. He goes to the web site of the Hindustan Times, and he sees a picture of her with the caption, âThe Greiving Widow.â? (Get it? Itâs a cunning commentary on the abysmal standards of English in the media today.) Oh okay â in either case, my interpretations arenât probably the intentions of director Vikram Bhatt, but this is what you do while watching a bad movie. You try to make it more interesting for yourself, directorial vision be damned. I neednât have strained my brain to this extent had only the rest of Red worked on the level that Jaitley does. She gives one of those deliciously atrocious performances that sets mind-boggling standards for the rest of the film to live down to, and had Red only taken up the dare, weâd have had ourselves that rarest of things: a gen-u-ine guilty pleasure. But Bhatt is too chicken, and all weâre left with is a flat-out bore.
Red gets going with Neel in the hospital, and the only friend he seems to have is the doctor whoâs treating him. After his recovery, she announces â at a celebration of his getting well â that she has some good news and some bad news, the bad news being that Neel is still alive and the good news being that her record of not having lost a patient remains intact. This ghoulish humour is surely what steeled Neelâs resolve to find other people to hang out with â so he runs into Anahita and promptly falls for her. Thatâs the cue for the filmâs segue into noir territory, what with murders and a femme fatale and a patsy protagonist â and the only thing thatâs strangely right is the title. Noirâs heyday was the black-and-white period, but had it instead been the colour era, would we have been talking about film rouge instead? Which other colour could better underline the crime and the carnality so typical of the genre? This musing, however, has nothing to do with Red, which plods along in a pseudo-arty style that makes even the sex scenes a snooze. The way he puckers up and smooshes his lips over hers, Aftab doesnât seem to be kissing Celina so much as sucking the wind out of her oesophagus. Thatâs the closest to gasp-inducing Red gets.
THE NOIRISH RED CHANNELS OLD HOLLYWOOD, Sarhad Paar channels Old Bollywood. The way the flashbacks are constructed (wife feeds husband a piece of roti in sad times; cut to wife feeding husband a piece of roti in happier times), the presence of faces we donât see much anymore (Raza Murad, Pankaj Dheer, Anjana Mumtaz), the voices of Alka Yagnik and Udit Narayan in a saccharine duet that uses just about every romantic clichÃ© (sample line: Janam janam ke bandhan tujhse bandh liye hain), the dupatta billowing about a woman as she races through green fields and clambers aboard her loverâs tractor â it all harks back to some long-ago, pre-multiplex era. Things begin somewhat intriguingly when the hammy bad guy (Rahul Dev) intones, âLog kehte hain ki hum Hindustan ko mitana chahte hain…â? A dramatic pause later, he continues, âPakistan ko bhi mitana chahte hain.â? Oh! So heâs some new kind of terrorist, one whoâs fighting to clear the world of borders? Thatâs what he claims, but nothing he does bears this out. Instead weâre asked to care whether army man Ranjit Singh (a sleepy Sanjay Dutt; Tabu plays his wife, and clearly the only reason she signed on is for some quick shopping money) can get out of the hospital in time to deflect the villainâs machine-gun sprays with a sword. Singh is in the hospital because heâs an amnesiac, the result of having been tortured across the border. Unfortunately, thereâs no such condition that can wipe out the memories of an audience thatâs suffered much worse.
Copyright Â©2007 The New Sunday Express