Venus Records & Tapes P. Ltd.'s HUMRAAZ, produced by Ganesh Jain and Ratan Jain and directed by Abbas-Mustan, is a story of complex relationships, misplaced ambition and unmitigated greed.
Karan (Akshaye Khanna) and Priya (Amisha Patel) are the lead performers of a musical troupe and very much in love with each other. The troupe gets a contract to perform on a cruise owned by millionaire Raj Singhania (Bobby Deol).
Raj meets Priya on the cruise and is magnetically drawn towards her. He has no clue that Priya and Karan are in love. Raj falls for Priya and she responds as well. After all, one of the richest and most eligible bachelors was wooing her in lavish style.
Karan is unaware of the relationship that is blossoming between Priya and Raj. As the cruise comes to an end, the besotted Raj proposes to Priya and she agrees to marry him. Now begins a treacherous triangular love story.
Expect the unexpected?
This adage suits HUMRAAZ more than any Hindi film made in the recent times. Inspired by the Michael Douglas ? Gwyneth Paltrow ? Viggo Mortensen starrer A PERFECT MURDER (1998), HUMRAAZ shocks you all the while ? and that's where it scores!
Director duo Abbas-Mustan have opted for a story that deviates from the monotonous stuff. The film has gloss, an attractive star cast, lilting music, the works? but the trump card is its script (Shyam K. Goel, Shiraz Ahmed) that keeps you on tenterhooks till the very end. The twists and turns, mainly towards the post-interval portions, are actually the USP of this enterprise.
The subject being such, it had to be treated with utmost sensitivity and maturity. And Abbas-Mustan successfully strike the right balance between form and content. If the film wears the polished look throughout (their shot execution is first-rate!), the story is innovative (for the Indian cinegoer) and the screenplay entrancing.
The initial portions give the impression that one is watching just another love triangle. The sequences on the cruise, Bobby's attraction for Amisha, Akshaye's insecure look, Amisha's reciprocation ? all this have been witnessed since time immemorial ? but it is the interval point that catches you unaware.
The post-interval portions are a thrill ride, with plenty of guesses as to what's going to happen next. Who will win Amisha's love in the end? Who's the villain actually? How will this love triangle culminate?? The edge-of-the-seat thriller keeps you glued till the last frame.
But a story like this is an equally risky proposition. For, it is not one of those love triangles that the Indian audience is so used to watching. Moreover, all the three principal characters have shades of grey, which is without doubt a novel viewing experience, but equally dicey as far as the orthodox Indian audiences are concerned.
Abbas-Mustan deserve full marks for opting for a theme that has not been attempted on the Hindi screen before. Their handling of a couple of sequences deserves distinction marks. The ones that can be singled out are those between Bobby and Akshaye (when Bobby lands up at Akshaye's home in the second half), then Bobby hatching the conspiracy, the murder sequence and the aftermath, the pre-climax when Akshaye does an about-turn?
On the flip side, the film could've done without a lengthy second half and the forced comedy track (Johny Lever, Dinesh Hingoo, Sudhir).
Himesh Reshammiya's music is sure to win plaudits. The composer belts out numbers that are easy on the ears and rich in orchestration. 'Pyaar Kar Ikraar Kar', 'Bardasht Nahin Kar Sakta', 'Tune Zindagi Mein Aake' and 'Dilne Kar Liya Aitbaar' are musical gems. Although the title track is racy, its placement seems improper, since the story is all set to take an interesting turn at that point. Sudhakar Sharma's lyrics deserve special mention as well. The picturisation of all numbers is visually striking.
Ravi Yadav's cinematography is excellent. Be it the grandiose look of the project or the stunning locales, the outcome is first-rate.
The performances in the enterprise are of a high order. Bobby Deol excels in a role that demanded histrionics. He looks the character he's been asked to portray and his expressions are just right. The anguish, the agony, the distress his character goes through (in the second half) comes across exceedingly well.
Akshaye Khanna enacts a complex character and takes to it like a fish to water. The malevolent streak and the scheming look that he carries on his face have been projected brilliantly. He is outstanding in the latter part of the film.
Amisha Patel is just about okay as Akshaye's lover (first half), but splendid as Bobby's wife (second half). This performance should silence her detractors for sure. Also, she's looked her best with admirable outfits and perfect make-up.
Farhan, as Akshaye's friend, is competent. His death sequence is well executed. Suhasini Mulay, as Bobby's grand-mother, is alright. Johny Lever has a brief role and he raises a few laughs.
On the whole, HUMRAAZ has a fresh cast, a riveting script, the grandiose look and several thrilling moments to take you on a joyride for the next three hours. The film has all it takes to appeal to an avid cinegoer who's thirsting for wholesome entertainment. Recommended!