In the 1970s and 1980s, the woman in Hindi cinema used to take things without uttering a word, even if the husband was indulging in adultery, was disloyal, had a kid outside marriage, was a physical abuser?
Times have changed. The woman in Hindi cinema is no longer the submissive, compliant sort. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth is her motto. That's the essence of AB? BAS!, directed by Rajesh Singh.
From the looks of it, AB? BAS! may seem like a sex-based theme. But it's not! Yes, there's some titillation [hot smooches, bedroom scenes et al], but there's a story as well - of a wife who walks out on her husband and when pushed against the wall, decides to take matters into her own hands. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!
Soumya [Diana Hayden] wins a beauty pageant and has the guys mesmerized by her looks. Karan [Shawar Ali], a tycoon, also present at the pageant, is completely smitten by Soumya. They meet, he woos her and soon enough, proposes marriage.
Soumya and Karan get married and become proud parents after Soumya delivers a baby girl. Everything seems to be hunky-dory till Soumya answers Karan's cellphone and the cat is out of the bag: Karan is indulging in extra-marital affairs.
Soumya questions Karan about it, but he pacifies her and even offers an apology. But the thought of her husband cheating on her continues to nag Soumya. Karan continues with his philandering ways and Soumya questions him again. This time, Karan gets physical and even threatens her with dire consequences.
Soumya decides to walk out and even asks for divorce, but Karan is adamant: Walk out and face the wrath. Somehow, Soumya escapes with her kid, but Karan traces her no matter where she goes. But when things go out of hand, Soumya decides to teach Karan a lesson!
Every year, there are a couple of movies that aren't very innovative in terms of script, but somehow, allow you to enjoy them on some level. AB? BAS! is one of those films. Even though its story does get predictable and the screenplay has some glitches, AB? BAS! manages to keep you hooked on to the screen.
Inspired by director Michael Apted's ENOUGH [2002; starring Jennifer Lopez, Billy Campbell], AB? BAS! starts off as a routine love story but gathers steam the moment Diana learns of Shawar's frivolous ways. The story again picks up when she escapes and the hide-and-seek game continues right till the pre-climax.
The final 15 minutes of the film, when Diana bashes Shawar black and blue, is amongst the most interesting parts of the film. The culmination to the story looks apt, considering that the man had been shown as a slimy character, a mental and physical abuser and the woman has faced his fury all through.
But the screenplay has its share of loose ends. For instance, how does Shawar reach the hotel the moment Diana escapes from the house? And when the going gets tough, when her daughter and her survival is at stake, why doesn't Diana report the matter to the cops? Even the manner in which Shawar goes about physically abusing Diana's friend [Pravin Sirohi] and foster parents [Aroon Bakshi, Neena Kulkarni], one wonders why don't they report to the media [since he's a tycoon] or the cops. Even Diana's father [Raju Kher] wants nothing to do with his daughter in one scene and in almost the next scene comes to her rescue. The reason offered is not too convincing!
Rajesh Singh's direction is appropriate in most parts. Although the screenplay is not as convincing at times, the director camouflages the defect with some deft strokes, especially towards the climax.
Music [Daboo Malik] is melodious. 'Tu Ishq Mera Hai' [filmed at the Floating Market in Bangkok, besides other panoramic locales of the city] and 'Kehta Hai Mera Dil' [filmed on Nigar Khan] are two numbers that stand out, for the catchy tunes as well as their filming. Cinematography is eye-catching.
Diana Hayden shows vast improvement over her debut vehicle and enacts the author-backed role with sincerity. Her expressions tend to get loud at times, but something like this works well with the masala movie audiences.
Shawar Ali enacts the maniacal husband, a wife-beater convincingly. For most of the movie, he manages the cold, menacing and cruel look with conviction. Nisha Harale is passable. Pravin Sirohi makes his presence felt. Amongst character actors, Raju Kher stands out, followed by Aroon Bakshi and Neena Kulkarni.
On the whole, the target audience for AB? BAS! are the masses and it should keep them content. Considering the price it has been sold at as also the genre of the film, it should find the going smooth at smaller centres/single screens.