There's so much noise about AETBAAR having the same story as Vikram Bhatt's last release INTEHA [released in Diwali 2003]. There's talk that the two films are inspired by the same Hollywood thriller director James Foley's Mark Wahlberg-Reese Witherspoon flick FEAR , which itself was inspired by FATAL ATTRACTION.
Yes, INTEHA and AETBAAR have similar storylines. That film had an over-possessive woman acting as a wall between her step-sister and her eccentric lover. AETBAAR talks about an over-possessive father out to save his daughter from the clutches of her weird lover.
But INTEHA and AETBAAR do differ on one solid ground while INTEHA lacked the grip to keep the viewer hooked for two hours [it also went unnoticed due to lack of publicity], AETBAAR does succeed in keeping the viewer on edge at most times.
Let's put it this way: AETBAAR may not be the most original thriller ever made, but it works to a large extent.
AETBAAR deals with one of life's most beautiful relationships the father and daughter bonding.
Right from the arrival of the little princess to the time she moves to her own kingdom, a father always shares joy, sorrows, treasured memories and sworn secrets with his daughter. But the greatest concern for the father remains the man in his daughter's life.
Dr. Malhotra [Amitabh Bachchan] believes he's simply a protective parent, while his daughter Ria [Bipasha Basu] believes he's simply possessive. All is well till Aryan [John Abraham] walks into their life.
Aryan is the epitome of all the values that Ria's father abhors wild, unpredictable, overpowering and obsessive. But he has all the qualities that Ria had always wished her life partner should have an intriguing and magnetic personality.
Aryan has only one mission in life being in love with Ria. Nothing else matters!
Soon begins a war of ideologies, desires and wits. How far can Dr. Malhotra go to convince his only child that she's headed towards disaster
An interesting plot well narrated by Vikram Bhatt, is the right way to describe AETBAAR. An intense love story, the film is embellished with some skilfully executed sequences and effective performances.
AETBAAR is not the routine formulaic film. Yes, you know the girl will get involved with the wrong guy, disobey her father, figure out she's wrong and run back into her father's protective arms.
Yes, you're sure the father will go to any lengths to safeguard his darling daughter from the psycho boyfriend. And yes, you are also convinced that the finale will have a violent showdown between the psycho boyfriend and the father, with good triumphing over evil.
But it's the handling of this complex story that deserves the marks!
Director Vikram Bhatt along with screenplay writers Robin Bhatt and Sanjeev Duggal build the tension slowly. The interaction between John and Bipasha on a rainy day and the sequences thereafter, which reflect John's unstable mind, make for an interesting start. The sequence between John and the prostitute soon after John's introduction is amongst the most volatile sequences of the flick.
There are several twists and turns in the first half. The sequence when John visits the family [Amitabh, Supriya, Bipasha] for the first time keeps the pace alive. Ditto for the sequence when Amitabh learns of John's past through a newspaper cutting and confronts him. The subsequent altercation [interval point] raises the expectations from the second half tremendously.
But the film slips in the second half, albeit slightly. The goings-on turn into a game of cat and mouse. Nothing wrong with that, but the predictable path the story follows in the post-interval portions is slightly tough to condone.
Besides, the tempo slackens in this half it actually moves at a lethargic pace, which shouldn't be the case in view of the fact that it's a thriller. Even the song just before the climax [picturised on Amitabh, Bipasha] looks completely forced and could've easily been vetoed.
On second thoughts, the film could've easily done away with the mandatory song and dance routine. In fact, the songs throw a spanner in the otherwise smooth narrative of the film. Even the best song of the enterprise, 'Chhodo Chhodo' [John, Bipasha], looks completely out of place because it isn't in sync with John's psycho behaviour. Note this: The sequence depicts John almost strangling Bipasha for not meeting him at the appointed hour and the very next moment, the lovers break into a romantic duet. Strange, isn't it
On the script level, the writers should've taken care to explain a few things. First and foremost, John's psychotic behaviour is not explained till the end. May be the writers would argue that some people are just black, not grey, but there should've been some statement or sequence to justify his anomalous behaviour.
Then, again, Bipasha keeps telling John that his behaviour scares her no end, but despite knowing that he's an oddball, she continues to meet him and defy her parents. Why
The film gathers momentum yet again towards the climax. The brilliantly executed finale does manage to send a chill down the spine and the violent end gels well with the mood of the film.
Director Vikram Bhatt seems to be in form after a long, long time. The film has able performances, several thrilling moments, a believable plot, but a bit more emphasis on the loose ends [script] would've only enhanced the film further.
Girish Dhamija's dialogues are noteworthy. Pravin Bhatt's cinematography is of standard. Rajesh Roshan's music is strictly functional. The action sequences [Abbas Ali Moghul], especially towards the climax, are first-rate.
Amitabh Bachchan enacts his part with utmost conviction, reassuring the viewer yet again that there's none to match him when it comes to dramatics. Bipasha Basu springs a surprise. After a series of second-rate performances, the actress succeeds in making you sit up and take notice of her talent. The sequence when she revolts against her parents is enough to prove the point!
But the 'discovery' is definitely John Abraham. John oozes intensity, love, hate, relentlessness and some rabidly obsessive behaviour, making you wonder that if this is what he can achieve in his third film, imagine what the output would be, say after 10 or 20 films.
Supriya Pilgaonkar [Amitabh's wife] is competent enough. Pramod Moutho [Commissioner of Police], Tom Alter [doctor], Shruti Ulfat [college professor] and Ali Asgar [Bipasha's friend] lend adequate support.
On the whole, AETBAAR has the merits to catch the audience attention, but the path won't be rosy taking into account the fact that it's pitted against a mammoth opposition [KHAKEE]. Yet, despite the opposition, AETBAAR stands a major chance with word of mouth. Go for it!