Review: Red / Sarhad Paar

Posted on March 11, 2007


Picture courtesy:


p align=”left”>


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 – count ‘em two – 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) who’s recently lost her husband. He goes to the web site of the Hindustan Times, and he sees a picture of her with the caption, “The Greiving Widow.â€? (Get it? It’s a cunning commentary on the abysmal standards of English in the media today.) Oh okay – in either case, my interpretations aren’t 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 needn’t 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, we’d have had ourselves that rarest of things: a gen-u-ine guilty pleasure. But Bhatt is too chicken, and all we’re 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 who’s treating him. After his recovery, she announces – at a celebration of his getting well – 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 Neel’s resolve to find other people to hang out with – so he runs into Anahita and promptly falls for her. That’s the cue for the film’s segue into noir territory, what with murders and a femme fatale and a patsy protagonist – and the only thing that’s strangely right is the title. Noir’s 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 doesn’t seem to be kissing Celina so much as sucking the wind out of her oesophagus. That’s the closest to gasp-inducing Red gets.

Picture courtesy:

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 don’t 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 cliché (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 lover’s tractor – it all harks back to some long-ago, pre-multiplex era. Things begin somewhat intriguingly when the hammy bad guy (Rahul Dev) intones, “Log kehte hain ki hum Hindustan ko mitana chahte hain…â€? A dramatic pause later, he continues, “Pakistan ko bhi mitana chahte hain.â€? Oh! So he’s some new kind of terrorist, one who’s fighting to clear the world of borders? That’s what he claims, but nothing he does bears this out. Instead we’re 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 villain’s machine-gun sprays with a sword. Singh is in the hospital because he’s an amnesiac, the result of having been tortured across the border. Unfortunately, there’s no such condition that can wipe out the memories of an audience that’s suffered much worse.

Copyright ©2007 The New Sunday Express

Posted in: Cinema: Hindi