The strangest film so far that I've seen in the Pune Festival is Nikhil Mahajan's PUNE 52 (52 refers to a lower class area of Pune. Beginning as an ordinary detective film set in 1992, the year of India's economic liberalization, it finally appears as if someone had shuffled the scripts of VERTIGO and FATAL ATTRACTION together and then ordered a hasty Susan Sontag re-write to achieve a further lack of clarity.
After the first half, when the hero wakes from a nightmare (as is typical in Hindi films) we release than some of the events we have witnessed never really happened. But did he kill or not kill the woman who pretends to be the wife of the construction magnate who he was originally working for?
There is one excellent moment, with the would be wife standing almost in silhouette against the white light coming through the open door of his home with the detective' wife in lighter tones against the dark door, but the differences (or similarities) are never again fully realized. To describe the twists and turns of the plot would be a disservice, if not impossible, but it is necessary to state that the growing affluence of the detective (concurrent with that of India's middle and upper classes) is handled in one fine special effects shot as walls seem to paint themselves and crude furniture morphs into chaise lounges, etc. The hero remains trapped in the end, but by what I am not sure -- either a political/economic nexus, his own weakness, or insanity. I will stop here, hoping to talk with the director in the next few days, who says at least that this is (although you might not know it) "not a murder mystery."
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