Karan Razdan has a knack for handling adult themes. If HAWAS looked at a philandering housewife, who seeks sex outside marriage, GIRLFRIEND was about a girl [lesbian] who gets overtly possessive of her girl-friend, when the latter falls in love with a guy.
In SOUTEN - THE OTHER WOMAN, Razdan tackles a piping hot story once again. Sure, this one's a love triangle, but it's not one of those mundane sagas where two women fight for the same man. In SOUTEN - THE OTHER WOMAN, the guy first gets into a physical relationship with a middle-aged woman and then falls in love with her step-daughter. Conclusion: Both mother and daughter want the same guy!
Thanks to the controversies surrounding the film [the makers' differences with Mahima Chaudhary, which is visible in parts of the film] and lack of aggressive promotion, you don't expect much from the film when the reels unfold. Even otherwise, you expect it to be one of those sex-laden skin-fests that titillate more than make a statement. But SOUTEN - THE OTHER WOMAN surprises, in parts especially.
Armed with a bold premise -- by Indian standards at least -- the film never pretends to be offbeat. It follows the same path that most masala films undertake, but the execution of a number of sequences is what generates a decent impression of the film. Of course, there are loose ends and how you wished Razdan would've either trimmed those portions or removed them. SOUTEN - THE OTHER WOMAN would've been much better than what it is currently.
To sum up, SOUTEN - THE OTHER WOMAN is akin to soda. The moment you throw open the cork, the fizz rises to the top level, but settles down as time goes by!
SOUTEN - THE OTHER WOMAN tells the story of Mitali [Mahima Chaudhary], married to Ranbir [Gulshan Grover], who belongs to a royal family. While Ranbir is busy expanding his business empire and in the free time indulges in shikaars, Mitali leads a humdrum life. She's bored and neglected.
Enter Raj [Vikram Singh], the kid-brother of Rajbir's business associate Sumer [Shakti Kapoor]. Mitali is entrusted the responsibility of taking Raj around and in a matter of a few meetings, the couple get into physical proximity. The relationship rests on lust and continues to escalate as days progress.
Smita [Padmini Kolhapure], Sumer's wife and Raj's sister-in-law, gets an inkling of the affair and confronts Mitali. But a headstrong Mitali snaps at her and continues to see Raj. Later, Smita makes Raj realize that he has embarked on a path that could've serious repercussions. Raj realizes his folly and makes Mitali understand that it's over between them.
At this point, Rajbir's daughter Sapna [Kiran Rathod] enters the scene. At first, Raj and Sapna have the usual tiffs, but gradually fall in love when they visit Goa for a holiday. When Sapna returns and confides in Mitali that Raj and she are in love, Mitali is shocked, but determined that she wouldn't let Sapna's love story have a happy end.
Immediately thereafter, Mitali spills the beans about her relationship with Raj to Sapna, who is crestfallen to know the truth. Sapna walks out of Raj and heads for Goa again, hoping to make a career in fashion designing. But Raj lands up there and after much persuasion, Sapna relents and forgives him. Mitali also lands up in Goa, this time with a prospective groom in tow for Sapna. A helpless Sapna cows down to her parents' demands and is engaged to the person.
At this juncture, Smita confronts Mitali and tells her to stop playing evil. There's an awakening and Mitali decides to get the lovers married. Simultaneously, Rajbir gets to know of the illicit relationship between Raj and Mitali and is seething with fury.
Director Karan Razdan has handled crucial parts well. The confrontation between Mahima and Padmini at the start, right till the intermission point when a shell-shocked Mahima learns that the guy she loves is now in love with her step-daughter, keep you glued to the proceedings. A vital scene soon after the intermission, when Mahima tells Kiran about the relationship she shared with Vikram, is another catch-you-unaware turning point in the tale.
But the post-interval portions run out of steam. The moment the story shifts to Goa, it becomes one routine saga. Even the pre-climax, when Mahima goes into a flashback [her affair with Karan Razdan and his subsequent death] is tacky, in terms of writing as well as execution.
Besides, a number of sequences with Mahima's duplicate [was the actress unavailable for the shoot?] takes away the sheen from the enterprise. The climax also looks like a hurried job and is outright predictable and formulaic [Mahima sacrificing her life].
Anand-Milind's music is pleasant. 'Barsaat Hai Lagne Laga Hai Darr', 'Souten Souten Mujhe Mil Gayee Souten' and 'Narm Honthon Ki Narmiyaan Lelo' are hummable compositions. The filming of the three tracks is what makes you remember them after the screening has concluded. Dialogues are impactful at times, but average otherwise. Cinematography [Aatish Parmar] is excellent. The portions filmed in Rajasthan give the film a visually stunning look.
After a number of inconsequential roles, Mahima gets the opportunity to sink her teeth into a character that does justice to her talent. She suits the part and most importantly, expresses the varied emotions with flourish. Padmini Kolhapure is graceful, enacting her role with complete understanding.
Vikram Singh has a major SRK hangup and is the weakest link of the enterprise. He looks ill at ease all through. Kiran Rathod is a fine actress, but she ought to concentrate on her styling. Her makeup is garish at times and her costumes downmarket. Gulshan Grover is dependable yet again. Shakti Kapoor provides some light moments. Shiva is up to the mark.
On the whole, SOUTEN - THE OTHER WOMAN appeals in parts, not in entirety. In view of the fact that it has been released without much hype and hoopla, it'll find tough attracting the audiences. Business in the Hindi belt should be better.