While Bollywood is fanatical about mega-budgets, top stars and international locales, Nagesh Kukunoor, by and large, looks the other way. Low costs, absence of big stars, sleepy and secluded locations [except 8 x 10 TASVEER and BOMBAY TO BANGKOK]â€¦ Kukunoor has made movies that may not really boast of gargantuan budgets, but have stories that linger in your memory. You expect MOD, his new outing, to live up to the expectations as well. MOD sprints energetically initially, but runs out of breath as it reaches the finale.
In one of my earlier interviews, Kukunoor had stated very categorically that he would never attempt a love story. He contradicts himself this time, for MOD is a love story and if that's not enough, it's an official remake of a Taiwanese film CHEN SHUI DE QING CHUN aka KEEPING WATCH. A love story is no safe bet. Bollywood is known for churning out prem kahanis or teeny bopper romances with amazing regularity, but the challenge lies in breaking the clutter and telling a tale that's dew-fresh and heart-warming.
MOD is an emotional love story of two completely mismatched people -- a genre Kukunoor has never tackled earlier. In fact, in his earlier movies, love was a part of the main plot, but it's the central theme this time. MOD boasts of an interesting idea and even Kukunoor's mature handling of the material needs to be lauded, but the film suffers for two reasons -- it unfolds at a sluggish/lethargic pace and is prolonged.
Let's get specific. The concept of the film is interesting, but once the cat is out of the bag vis-a-vis the identity of Rannvijay, you expect Kukunoor to take the story to its destination pronto. The journey to the culmination is erratic in this case. The track of Rannvijay's parents and also the sequences that lead to the final moments seem elongated for no compelling reason. These portions don't involve you and that is MOD's biggest undoing!
Aranya [Ayesha Takia Azmi] lives in the sleepy and idyllic hill station, Ganga. One day, a stranger, Andy [Rannvijay], lands up at her watch repair store to have his watch fixed. He is painfully shy, but keeps returning day after day to have his water-logged watch repaired. As payment, he leaves a 100 rupee note in the form of a swan. Aranya slowly warms up to this quirky stranger and through a series of meetings, they fall in love. But who is Andy? And what is his past?
Kukunoor has mastered the art of telling a story adroitly and his choice of the subject is also appropriate. For an average viewer, the identity of Rannvijay does come as a surprise, but MOD leaves you with mixed feelings. Certain sequences are delightful, but awfully extended. Some parts could have just been left out on the editing table. Some sequences don't add much value to the goings on and end up disrupting the flow of this movie.
Cinematography [Chirantas Das] is truly eye-filling. The locations are mesmeric. The songs [Tapas Relia] are a deterrent and the fact that the music hasn't caught on makes it worse.
Ayesha Takia Azmi sparkles yet again in MOD. A truly wonderful performance! Contrary to his image, Rannvijay is cast as a sweet, quirky, sensitive, geeky guy here. And not just the character, but also his performance takes you by surprise. He nails it right this time. Raghubir Yadav is, as always, dependable. Tanvi Azmi shines as well. Anant Mahadevan is first-rate. Rushad Rana does well. Nikhil Ratnaparkhi excels. Prateeksha Lonkar appears in a cameo.
On the whole, MOD appeals in bits and spurts. That's about it!