207599 Taran Adarsh

Tum? Review by Taran Adarsh

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When you saunter into a cinema hall screening TUM?, you expect to watch a sensitive film that deals with a 'Summer of 42' kind of an issue, of a young man falling in love with an elderly woman.

No doubt, this particular theme is a part of the film, but as the plot thickens, it changes gears and deviates to an altogether different track it develops into a murder mystery.

Sadly, neither the young guy's obsessive streak leaves much of an impression, nor does the suspense drama in the second half succeeds in keeping you on tenterhooks.

Trying to pack too many sub-plots in one story only results in one big mess!

Kamini [Manisha Koirala] and Vinod [Rajat Kapoor] have been married for 18 years. Vinod has been aware that he is not devoting enough time to Kamini and to make it up, they decide to celebrate their wedding anniversary in Mauritius. She is to leave from Mumbai, he from New York.

However, Vinod gets delayed for some reason. Meanwhile, a young photographer, Jatin [Karan Nath], finding Kamini alone, gives her company. Kamini spends most of her day with Jatin. On the eve of her anniversary, they drink, dine and dance together. Kamini gets drunk and Jatin takes her to her room. When she wakes up, she finds Jatin in her bed.

The same evening, Vinod arrives and Kamini wants to reveal the truth to him, but at the same time does not want to upset him. They return to Mumbai. But Jatin follows Kamini to her house and becomes friendly with her family. Kamini turns into an obsession for him

If the first half seems inspired by SUMMER OF 42, the post-interval portions remind you of BEZUBAAN [1982], especially the track of the photographer [Naseeruddin Shah] trying to blackmail a top businessman's wife [Reena Roy].

Ideally, director Aruna Raje, who has also penned the script of the film herself, should've concentrated on either making a story of an elder, married woman and her young admirer and how it affects those around them, or a murder mystery. But clubbing the two plots in one film only confuses the viewer no end.

As a writer, Aruna Raje falters

Karan Nath's obsession for Manisha soon after the fateful night could've been treated more realistically. Even if you ignore this aspect, the viewer is in for a shock when he watches Karan confronting Manisha at the interval point, giving her an ultimatum to bow down to his 'demands' or else he'd target her teenage daughter.

Actually, the writer hasn't even clarified as to what Karan desires plain sex or pure love

Even if you stomach this peculiarity, it's difficult to digest the sequence of events in the second half. For, the story suddenly changes into a murder mystery in this part, with each of the characters believing that the other is the killer.

The biggest flaw of the film is its climax, when the identity of the murderer is revealed. And the reason that prompts the killer to perform the crime is ridiculous and flimsy, to say the least. Frankly, the climax is such an anti-climax!

As director, Aruna isn't in good form either. Though she tackled relationships with utmost sensitivity in her last release RIHAEE [1990; Vinod Khanna, Hema Malini, Naseeruddin Shah], she seems to have lost balance this time around.

Despite the fact that the 'bedroom' sequences between Manisha and Karan earlier and between Manisha and Rajat Kapoor subsequently might provide some cheap thrills to the front-benchers, one wonders why the director insists on projecting Manisha as some Sex Goddess. For, not only does Karan seems obsessed by that night, but even the husband keeps insisting on the 'good times' they spent during their 18th marriage anniversary in Mauritius. In any case, Manisha looks far from being an alluring, sexy woman, thanks to her deglamourised look [at places].

Music [Himesh Reshammiya] does not contribute in taking the story forward. However, the Adnan Sami track 'Kyon Mera Dil' is the pick of the lot. Cinematography is okay.

None of the performances stand out, partly because of inept writing. Manisha Koirala tries to get into the skin of the character but ignites a few sequences only. Karan Nath doesn't look the part he's projecting. Rajat Kapoor is expressive enough. Netanya Singh hams throughout. Aman Verma seems to have a Bachchan hangover and it shows. Bobby Darling is a complete miscast.

On the whole, TUM? is a poor show. At the box-office, the steamy bedroom scenes [that have been publicised] might excite the front-benchers initially, but eventually even that won't salvage a weak script.

Tum? 1 Taran Adarsh 20040220