Vikram Bhatt goes the Mahesh Bhatt way. After making a series of masala films with flourish, Vikram narrates a story that is straight out of life -- his life, to be precise. When a celebrity-storyteller gets into an autobiographical mood, narrating incidents from his life, which have never been told/heard/written about before, anyone and everyone is bound to be curious and inquisitive.
ANKAHEE takes a look at relationships. The premise -- a married man torn between two women -- has been done to death in Bollywood. But it's the treatment that makes or mars a concept. Thankfully, ANKAHEE works because Vikram narrates his story in the most convincing fashion.
For any emotional story to strike a chord, it ought to be embellished with [i] Emotional moments that touch the core of your heart and [ii] Dexterous performances by the principal star cast. And in both these departments, ANKAHEE works in a big way.
Shekhar [Aftab Shivdasani] is married to Nandita [Amisha Patel]. The relationship only gets better with the birth of a girl, Sheena. Everything seems perfect. Till Miss World and Bollywood star Kavya Krishna [Esha Deol] walks into his hospital with a slit wrist.
Kavya is beautiful. Like the rest of the world, Shekhar falls in love with her. For Kavya, Shekhar is the lifeline. Her anchor. The only person in the world who can make her happy. And Kavya wants, needs, struggles to be happy.
Nandita, of course, is stuck in the middle. Shekhar is her husband. The only man she has ever loved. And yet, he finds it only too easy to walk away. From her. From their home. From Sheena.
ANKAHEE is about the truth that was left unspoken between a man, his wife and their daughter. And the lies that need to be uncovered.
In many ways, ANKAHEE bears a striking similarity to Mahesh Bhatt's ARTH. The other woman [also from the glamour industry here] is also a maniac, suffering from acute depression. Then, when the wife gets to know of her husband's affair with a beauty queen/actress, she pleads her case to the other woman in a manner similar to Shabana Azmi's telephonic conversation with the silent Smita Patil. Much later, the wife decides to start life afresh and when the husband does return to her, she slams the door on him.
The difference between ARTH and ANKAHEE is that there's a child involved when the break-up occurs and how it affects not just the couple, but also the kid.
If ANKAHEE is autobiographical by nature, purportedly based on Vikram Bhatt's life, then you've got to give it to the director for accepting the blame for the failed relationship. In fact, Aftab actually emerges as the culprit for the failed marriage, walking out on his wife and kid, smitten by a beauty queen who seems overtly possessive of him.
In terms of execution, ANKAHEE is embellished with a number of brilliant sequences. Sample these:
- Esha's introduction in the initial reels sets the mood.
- Amisha confronting Aftab after the affair is out in the open, courtesy Midday, has been handled with Ã©lan.
- Amisha visiting Aftab in his clinic, requesting him to work on the marriage, is straight out of life.
- The estranged parents visiting the school principal and the child asking her father if it's true he's having an affair with Kavya, would melt even the stone-hearted.
- Amisha going to Esha's house and pleading her case is handled with utmost sensitivity.
On the flip side, the subject caters to a particular section of moviegoers mainly. It's more for the mature viewers, the elite, the ladies in particular. For all those who have an appetite for refined, true to life cinema. But definitely not for the aam junta that looks for time pass or meaningless entertainers.
Also, the slow narrative throws a spanner. The sequence of events unfolds at a lethargic pace, more so in the first hour. Besides, there's not much movement in the story in the first half, once the characters are established.
Screenplay writers Yash-Vinay and Vikram Bhatt have penned a script that gallops straight into your heart. It wouldn't be wrong to state that the director gets a major boost only because the writing is cohesive and consistent. Not once does the story deviate towards unwanted tracks. Even the dialogues [Girish Dhamija] compliment the emotional graph of the story.
There's no denying that ANKAHEE is Vikram Bhatt's most accomplished work to date. Not only is the film rich in emotions, so vital for a film that tackles relationships, even the performances that Vikram has extracted from his actors is commendable. The subject material would've fallen flat in inept hands, no two opinions on that. Pritam's music is in sync with the mood of the film. 'Tumse Yun Milenge' is the pick of the lot. Cinematography [Praveen Bhatt] is up to the mark.
It would be unfair to single out any one performance. But, of course, Esha's character stands out due to the grey shades. Esha makes you sit up with a power-packed performance this time. She never got an opportunity to prove herself earlier and now that she does get one in ANKAHEE, she comes up with an award-worthy performance this time around.
Aftab excels in a role that would've been difficult to portray by an average actor. He enacts the role of a weak man with complete understanding, not looking out of place even once. ANKAHEE easily ranks as his finest performance so far. A performance that's bound to be noticed and talked about.
Amisha is in form after a long, long time -- after GADAR to be precise. She is controlled, expressive and portrays her part with gusto. Hrishita Bhatt and the child artist are both expressive. Amin Hajee and Ashwini lend admirable support.
On the whole, ANKAHEE is a sensitive tale that has been executed and performed with flourish. At the box-office, it caters to the elite crowd and ladies mainly -- those who have an appetite for true to life, mature and meaningful cinema. The film has the merits to grow with a strong word of mouth in days to come. Its business at multiplexes of metros should be the best. Recommended!