3.5 Very Good

7 Khoon Maaf

Adapted from Ruskin Bond's 'Susanna's Seven Husbands', 7 Khoon Maaf (7KM) flows like a book. It's a visual delight as each frame is like a psychedelic sketch. But unlike the book, 7KM doesn't evoke that itch to be greeted with the unexpecte...d. Misleadingly pitched as a dark, wicked film, with the premise of a woman slaying her husbands, it turns out to be a rather casual affair and most of the murders aren't even graphic (sad smiley).

The film narrates the story of Susanna Anna-Marie Johannes (Priyanka Chopra) who's an affluent orphan left with a peculiar trio of domestic help, comprising a butler (right out of The Adams Family), a dwarf called Goonga (for literal reasons) and a comfortably round maid (Usha Uthup) who offers her most sinister expression when the scene demands it.

Now, given the name of the film, one expects a minimum of 7 murders. But in reality, there are just 6 (the 7th one is metaphoric and too corny to be mentioned here). How they happen and what transpires between Susanna and her spouses is narrated by Arun (Vivaan Shah), someone who Susanna adopted and who had a childhood crush on her.

Susanna's tiny love stories that predictably turn sour for various reasons are tolerable as they're told well (even when they don't have much merit of their own). Her husbands exhibit various kinks and shades that make them distinguished, if not desirable. A bad temper, insecurity, overindulgence in drugs and other women etc. A rather bold first in Hindi films being masochism in bed performed by Wasiullah Khan (Irrfan Khan), the Kashmiri-poet husband.

Among the husbands, Major Edwin Rodrigues (Neil Mukesh) is perfectly stern and ill tempered, while Nicolai Vronsky (Aleksandr Dyachenko) is mildly entertaining as he chants Bollywood dialogues with a Russian twang. Dr Modhusudhon Tarafdar (Naseeruddin Shah) is a caricature of a stereotypical Bengali and gets a bit tiring after a while. The rest of the husbands don't even deserve a mention.

Priyanka's maturity as an actor is debatable but Greg Cannom's (Benjamin Button) make-up finesse surely lends her an over-matured face. The Hollywood face-sculptor also achieves the unimaginable (PC can actually look more average than she already does).

7KM fails to be creepy and the several odd romances are quirky but hardly engaging. While Vivaan's narration keeps your attention on the screen, it doesn't arouse any concern or sympathy for the rapidly expiring husbands. And Vivaan is surely the best find and drives the film with a role that's meatier than his father's.

The songs in the film are soothing and make you sink into your seat. This may not be a good thing because if you get too comfortable, you could even doze off. 'Darling' may get the popularity vote and 'O Mama' would impress the wannabe GnR fans. But Vishal Bhardwaj's own voice in 'Bekaraan' is a soft drug.

With in-film branding becoming shamelessly blatant, this film could've tied up with a popular laxative brand. Their selling point could be, "Saat spoon (and) saaf!"See more