Many a times, producers bow down to market diktats and end up making films that are ancient history soon after they've hit the marquee. Their 'life' at the box-office is short-lived primarily because the passion to create something exciting is missing.
But you do come across that rare film which lingers in your memory and remains etched even after months have elapsed.
Inspired by director Peter Weir's immensely successful flick WITNESS [1985; Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis], Pooja Bhatt's PAAP [produced by Shreya Creations P. Ltd. and Fish Eye Network P. Ltd.] is one such film that stays with you!
When the Rimpoche the religious head from a serene monastery in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh gets a vision about his Master's reincarnation in New Delhi as a six-year-old boy, it is left to a young girl from the town, Kaya [Udita Goswami], to bring the six-year-old child Llahmo [Madan] back to the monastery.
Although Kaya has been brought up in the quiet but disciplined environment of Spiti and has been conditioned by her stern father [Dr. Mohan Agashe] to believe that denial is the only route to higher truth, her heart wanders into territories common for a girl her age. She yearns for love and waits for its arrival during her private moments.
As fate would have it, Llahmo gets involved with the murder of a key police officer in New Delhi and becomes a key witness to the case. Investigating the murder is a righteous police officer Shiven [John Abraham]. Although Kaya resents his philosophy and clashes with him on several occasions owing to his views on reincarnation, sacrifice and higher truth, she finds herself strangely drawn towards him.
The murder case complicates further till there is no option for Shiven except to reach Kaya and Llahmo to their own safe surroundings. Injured in the process of this escape, he still manages to take them safely to Spiti. His injury is serious and he is forced by the elders and Kaya to stay in the village amongst the monks, a village life, a bitter father and his growing attraction for Kaya till he is healed.
During his stay he manages to evoke several suppressed feelings in Kaya and this causes concern to her father, who has already chalked a path that she must take.
As the danger from the city, in the form of the actual murderers, comes closer and closer to Spiti, threatening to break the silence in the valley with blood and gunshots, Kaya has to make up her mind whether she wants to follow her heart that will give her happiness in this birth or follow a path of sacrifice to secure joy in her future births.
In an era where most writers/directors focus on gimmicks while the story takes a complete backseat, PAAP stands out as an exception. Here's a story that's refreshingly different from what you've viewed so far. The focus is clearly on content, not gimmicks.
PAAP marks Pooja's directorial debut and although on new turf, she has created an engrossing fare that is visually stunning and thematically moving. The film is extremely successful in drawing the viewer into its world.
Tackling a serious theme in her very first film must've been nothing short of a challenge. And Pooja emerges trumps. The deft handling of the story manages to keep the viewer enticed for the next two hours [12 reels].
However, the film is not without its share of flaws
Brilliantly shot by cinematographer Anshuman Mahaley [the locales of Spiti cannot be described in mere words!] and efficiently edited by Akiv Ali, PAAP also boasts of brilliantly-penned dialogues that are soaked in emotions [Niranjan Iyengar], a well-Indianised screenplay [Mahesh Bhatt] and scintillating performances by the entire cast.
John Abraham takes giant strides as an actor. The kind of maturity he reflects in his fourth film is rare. Dr. Mohan Agashe is superb [the confrontation scene between John and Agashe is outstanding]. Denzil Smith is first-rate, while Sandeep Mehta is an actor to watch. Child artiste Madan Bhiku is next to perfect. Gulshan Grover and Anahita Uberoi are efficient.
However, it is new-find Udita Goswami who surprises you with a performance that is sure to find a place in all award nominations next year. You can't help but put your two hands together for this bravura performance!
The music gels well with the narrative. 'Intezaar' [music: Anu Malik; singer: Anuradha Paudwal] and 'Lagan' [music: Shahi; singer: Rahat Fateh Ali Khan] are the pick of the lot.
On the whole, PAAP satiates the appetite of the urban audience looking for a story-based fare. At the box-office, the film should find patronage at multiplexes of metros mainly. For those looking for typical Bollywood masala fare, PAAP has very little to offer. Also, lack of aggressive promotion may curtail its business to an extent!