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Jaya
Joy Sengupta ...
Om Prakash
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Jeetu, Om's brother (as Aly Khan)
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Om's mother (as Surekha Sikri-Rege)
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Virginia, the American organ-buyer
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3 May 2002 (India)  »

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Ambitious concept with very flawed execution
15 December 2002 | by (India) – See all my reviews

The atmosphere is pretty much play-like with very few scenes shot outside the realms of the one-room tenement where the main characters exist. The cinematic touches applied herein are very forced and jar with the rest of the scenario. Acceptable, if low budget, graphics are used to convey the technological aspects of the film.

IMO, apart from the illness-inducing last quarter and the noticeable lack of overall polish, the main failing of the film is the amount of time it takes to explaining mundane technicalities instead of building actual dramatic tension. The film's already niche selling capacity should have allowed the director to dispense with this kind of hand-holding. The source script in itself appears flawed and stretched beyond its legitimate capacity and this reflects in the film's pacing. I would have preferred a crisp 90-minute narrative to its over-arched 2-hour drama that towards the end dips into amateur gibberish.

The film benefits from Kitu Gidwani's excellent performance (IMO the best aspect of this film). Her Jaya comes across as a strong-willed and yet achingly vulnerable woman. I would have liked even more footage to be devoted to the study of her character. Surekha Sikri makes her presence felt as Om's comfort-hungry mother: watch the scene in a latter part of the film where she leerily encases herself in a tomb-shaped entertainment cabin (called 'Video Paradiso'). Aly Khan impresses in the scene where he is returned after the loss of his eyes. The scene also has the best dialog in the film. Joy Sengupta as Om is passable in a role that does not bear much weight.

Nihalani's photography is restrained to the point of being unremarkable, I don't know if that's a good thing. The editing (Deepa Bhatia) is loose but I also have problems with the base script so it's a qualified opinion. Composer Roy Venkatraman, after a promise-filled opening credit sequence featuring a synth-backed dhrupad vocal, proceeds to systematically maul the senses with one of the worst scores in film music history. As though they had been commissioned for a low-budget southie soft-porn venture, his pieces are not only insipid and tuneless they also bear no relation to the mood of the scene in which they play. Vanraj Bhatia where art thou?

The film certainly scores points for its novelty in the Indian context and Kitu Gidwani's act is worth the look, but is seriously weighed down by its flawed script and endurance-testing denouement.


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