Supernatural, eerie and uncanny themes have their share of advocates and skeptics. But when a maker attempts a film on such subject matters, he ought to make it a gripping fare in order to keep the viewer completely hooked to the narrative.
Mahesh Manjrekar diversifies to an altogether different genre this time around. Supernatural forces and paranormal activities are the focus of RAKHT, his latest endeavour.
Expertly made and realistically treated, RAKHT is a notch above the commonplace. The zone it flounders in is towards its finale, besides the lethargic pace with which the story unfolds. The writing of the finale could?ve been much, much better?
Yet, despite the hiccups, RAKHT is engaging and involving in parts. And credit for this goes partly to the director, in some degree to its background score [Sandeep Chowta] and to an extent to the on-screen performers.
RAKHT tells the story of Drishti [Bipasha Basu], a tarot card reader, who is gifted with a strange ability to foresee occurrences. She can also sense the approaching danger and peer vaguely into the future. A widow, Drishti is a doting mother to an 8-year-old boy.
Rahul [Sanjay Dutt], a school principal, is engaged to Natasha [Amrita Arora], who happens to be the daughter of the Mayor [Sharat Saxena]. In a sudden twist of events, Natasha vanishes mysteriously after a night out with one of her friends. Completely clueless about her whereabouts, Rahul approaches Drishti to help trace Natasha.
Sunny [Dino Morea] shares a rough relationship with his wife Rhea [Neha Dhupia]. Living in constant fear due to Sunny?s violent behavior, Rhea decides to meet Drishti with the domestic problem and overcome the situation.
Then there?s Mohit [Suniel Shetty], a car mechanic, who has a soft corner for Drishti. He has had a rough childhood and is an eccentric now. Like any good therapist, Drishti helps her clients solve their own problems, find their own answers.
The story takes a turn when something drastic happens and the finger of suspicion points towards Sunny. He is arrested, found guilty of committing the act and sentenced to imprisonment. But is he the culprit?
Heavily borrowed from Sam Raimi?s THE GIFT [2000; Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves], RAKHT also brings back memories of Irvin Kershner?s EYES OF LAURA MARS [1978; starring Faye Dunaway, Tommy Lee Jones]. In fact, Parto Ghosh?s Madhuri Dixit starrer 100 DAYS was based on the latter.
A subject like the one in RAKHT is ideal for Hindi movie audiences since palmists, kundalis, astrologers and tarot card readers are a part of Indian lives. Therefore, the identification!
RAKHT casts a spell in the initial reels, it takes off on a promising note. And as it progresses, Manjrekar keeps the whodunit aspect alive. It?s hard to guess the identity of the killer till the finale. From the violent husband [Dino] to his helpless but angry wife [Neha], from the honest fianc?Sanjay] to a prosecutor with a secret to hide [Himanshu] to the eccentric mechanic [Suniel], anyone could be the killer who?s dumped a girl in a lake.
If the realistic treatment is the USP of RAKHT, it?s also a downer. In an effort to treat each sequence with gloves, the pace of the film gets indolent and sluggish. Unfortunately, the film maintains this unhurried pace till the very end.
Besides the pacing, things go awry in the climax when Bipasha realizes who the murderer is. And when the murderer also realizes that he stands exposed, you?d expect a hair-raising culmination to the story. But the climax, when Suniel and Himanshu surface suddenly, looks convenient and unpersuasive, in terms of writing. A better-thought end would?ve been more appropriate!
Besides, the writers have done justice to all the characters, except that of Suniel Shetty. His characterization appears sketchy, although the actor makes it up with a fine performance.
There?s no denying that Manjrekar has handled a few sequences with aplomb and the eerie atmosphere is maintained right through, but he should?ve tightened the pace of the film.
Sandeep Chowta?s background score is superb and it enhances the impact largely. Cinematography is fantastic. The lighting deserves special mention. Special effects are fantastic. Music takes a backseat in a film like this [there?re just three songs!]. ?One Love? is undoubtedly the pick of the lot, while ?Oh What A Babe?, though stylishly filmed, appears forced.
RAKHT belongs to Bipasha Basu, who sheds the ?sex symbol? tag with this film and dons a new avtaar, that of an actress of substance. She emits compassion when she?s reassuring her defenseless clients and holds strong in the face of violent threats ? this clearly indicates that the actress had studied her part very well.
Another surprise is Dino Morea, who delivers a bravura performance. Sanjay Dutt is restrained, as per the demand of the character. Suniel Shetty leaves an impression.
Amrita Arora excels; her presence looming large from start to end. Neha Dhupia doesn?t get much to do as the battered wife, yet gives it her best. Abhishek Bachchan looks trendy in the song [?One Love?] and the scene that he has.
Himanshu is just about okay. Payal Rohatgi is likeable. Sachin Khedekar is incredible in the courtroom sequence. Shashikala, Beena and Shivaji Satam are adequate.
On the whole, RAKHT is appealing in parts and will therefore meet with mixed reactions from the paying public. At the box-office, the film should strike a chord with the multiplex-going viewers mainly [thanks to its classy look and city-centric treatment], but its prospects at mass-oriented cinema halls could prove to be a matter of concern.