7 Khoon Maaf - ***
It is innovative, it is interesting, but is it entertaining well all might not agree on that one. This has been in the waiting now, more so coming from Vishal Bharadwaj, who has created a distinct style of his own since his beginning with childrenâ€™s films Makdee and Blue umbrella or Shakespeare adaptations Maqbool (Macbeth) and Omkara (Othello) or the most recent commercial success Kaminey, expectations are huge from this one. Well brace yourself you are in for a bumpy ride enjoyable though.
Based on a short story by Ruskin Bond â€˜Susannaâ€™s 7 husbandsâ€™ it explores the story of a young female in her twenties who keeps falling in love again and again till her fifties only to realize he is the wrong person each time and ends up killing him. Throughout the period she shares a warm relationship with small boy whom she adopts in his childhood, who has a crush on her. Played by Vivaan Shah, it is through his narration to his wife Konkana sen that we come to know of her story.
So first we have the overtly possessive and paranoid Major played by a suave Neil Nitin Mukesh, whoâ€™s lost his leg in a war adding to his ego, Jimmy played by less delightful John Abraham whoâ€™s a singer and rock star but is found to be a copycat and has taken into dope and drugs. Distraught with life she moves to Kashmir and falls for a poet Wasiyullah played by menacing Irfan who is a soothing poet by day but turns into a sadistic and masochistic animal by night. Next in line a Russian spy straight faced, slightly humorous Vronsky played by Aleksandr Dyachenko who has a wife and kids in Russia. And then the lustful exploiting police officer keemat lal played by Annu Kapoor and lastly a Bengali naturopathy doctor played by docile Naseeruddin Shah who wants her money rather than her. Each story represents conditions of paranoia, addiction, sadism, unfaithfulness, lust and greed.
So what one has is a simple and straight story having same end in each sub story. So it is upto the director to make it an interesting watch wherin he succeeds only in half of its stories. Episodes involving Neil, Irfan and Annu strike a chord, while rest of them fails to do so. Vishal though is a great story teller falters here mainly as lack of elaboration the audience never comes to know how she falls in love with each character. Also we are told about the timeline very subtly through remarks on fall of Berlin wall, Ayodhya incident, Pokhran launch and recent attack on Taj which many may not even catch the point. Nevertheless he succeeds in bringing out the hatred the protagonist has for her husbands, to add on he even makes the audience feel for her pain and tragedy instead of loathing her. He extracts sterling performances from all actors including the supportive cast.
Priyanka (call her Susanna, Salma, Sunaina, Anna) gives her career best shot and is sure to win lot of accolades for this role, she moves in and out of various emotions with such panache that is a rarity in recent times. Be it the pain or brooding or the menacing laugh she gets it all right including the bold scenes she has more than once. Amongst the boys one has to really appreciate the debutante Vivaan who is a match to all his other heroes, having an unlikely launch vehicle he shows lot of grit and depth in his performance whilst seeing the woman he once loved falling from grace each time, one has to watch how this boy shapes up. Neil gives a first rate performance in his short stint as an impotent, disabled, envious husband while John has not much to do here though, mainly as it is not much elaborated but gets to croon the 2 best songs of the movie oh mama and dil dil hai. Irfan does his sadist act brilliantly, what impresses is the underlying restraint. Annu kapoor comes to screen after a long hiatus but he pits in a great act, thanks to the humorous way it has been written. Somehow Naseerâ€™s role wasnâ€™t that captivating probably I was having less of patience nearing the end. Among the supporting characters the 3 domestic servants deserve a special mention as the partners-in-crime with priyanka; usha uthup is just passable but the butler (Harish Khanna) and the dumb gunga (Shashi Malaviya) give a commendable performance and needs a special mention. Things that might go against the movie are lack of details, lack of twists as is evident by lukewarm opening it has received. Music stops at being good; darling is a high, its derived from Russian original â€˜kalinkaâ€™ while oh mama and dil dil are rock numbers.
One might be left wondering about the seventh husband /murder but Iâ€™ll not be a spoilsport and make a mention of it. Movie ends on an abstract note which I doubt if it gets the attention of viewer. But it deserves the credit for the novel concept and commending performances. Kudos to Vishal for we have someone who can take Indian films to an international level and get appreciated too. Itâ€™s one of a kind, a daring and an outstanding venture which is bound to have diverse reactions.