Karisma Kapoor's grand-slam of a return to form (and shape) in Vikram Bhatt's startling mix of myth and mystery in Dangerous Ishhq makes us forget, even forgive, Madhuri Dixit's disastrous comeback in Aaja Nachle.
Yes, there is life after 30 for Bollywood divas. You just need to get a life. Vikram Bhatt so far consumed in making relatively small films about para-normal experiences, pulls out all stops in Dangerous Ishhq to make Karisma's comeback a near-spectacular cinematic event.
The film told through many eras of tumult, mythology and history engages our attention on many levels. It takes its interestingly-etched protagonist through several lives in search of her missing soul-mate. This commodious epic time-frame stretching from 2012 to the 16th century gives Karisma a chance to slip into several costume changes.
Luckily for her and for the audience, Dangerous Ishhq is not only about getting into the right clothes. Amin Hajee's script makes resonant existential statements without getting the plot tangled in ideas and concepts. Beyond a point it ceases to matter whether the audience believes in after-life or reincarnation. Vikram Bhatt's splendidly executed mythological-thriller just makes you thankful for the gift of mythology, philosophy and cinematic technique that makes a film so daring in concept come alive in flaming colours of pain anger defiance and redemption.
Indeed this is a film that takes us far beyond the accepted boundaries of entertainment to forge a new genre of cinematic experience where the pauranic katha of Savitri retrieving her husband from the clutches Yama the God of death, is taken to an unexplored level of cinema. In Raaz 10 years ago Vikram Bhatt had explored the same theme. Here he takes the theme to the arena of the unknown.
From the opening scenes where Sanjana (Karisma) turns back from a traffic snarl on the way to Mumbai airport to board a flight for a year of a posh a modeling assignment in Paris, to be with her beau (Rajniesh Duggal) you know when it comes to love this lady means business.
Vikram Bhatt gets considerable support from his technicians in building a rugged reverberant artifact that carries the love tale through centuries of strife bloodshed and anguish. The drama is created with a keen eye for heightened emotions. And yet ironically, Karisma pitches her performance at a subdued decibel. Even when her soul screams in protest at being separated from her eternal lover through four lifetimes, the actress exudes fortitude and restrain.
Welcome back, Karisma!
Honestly it's hard to imagine Dangerous Ishhq without Karisma's serene graceful presence. She is never looked lovelier. Never seemed more at peace with herself even when her character is plunged into the deepest recesses of pain and anguish. Karisma gets able support from a slew of capable actors playing her predatory male adversary in various lifetimes. Rajineish Duggal partners her ably through several lifetimes of janam-janam ka pyar. Ravi Kissan and Aarya Babbar stand out among the villains who want to separate them. The judai ka Judas, so to speak. Divya Dutta as Karisma's saheli once again proves she can carry any kind of situation to a believable level. However Gracy Singh as Meerabai provides unintended laughter.
As for Jimmy Shergil, here's an actor who never lets a script down. Here he has a role that reveals several dark shades of psychological trauma as it progresses from investigating a kidnapping to investing in afterlife. Sheirgil is every bit in form. He is Parambrata Chattopaddhyay from Kahaani whose interest in helping the heroine in finding her missing soul-mate is more than altruistic.
But the film's real hero is Karisma Kapoor. She is virtually in every frame of the film. Cinematographer Pravin Bhatt (who has shot most of his son Vikram Bhatt's films) captures Karisma's lucid face in dazzling shades suggesting an ageless fusion of night and day.
And then there are the 3D effects. Never before in an Indian film have we seen the 3D technique been applied with such resounding impact. The flying rubble, boulders and the dust in the key action scenes actually makes you flinch as they hurl out of the screen at the speed of the film's excellent sound. Dangerous Ishhq has the best 3D effects seen in an Indian film, on a par with what we saw recently in The Avengers, if not better.
Miraculously the audience forgets the film is in 3D, as the gripping story takes over, transporting us into several world, moods, emotions and interpretations of love commitment and determination. Indeed Dangerous Ishhq is a far greater achievement than a sum-total of its storytelling and technique. Vikram Bhatt creates an audacious heady mix of mythology and the supernatural. He invents a new genre of storytelling where time passages signal a synthesis of the cinematic medium with the written fable without bending the basic rules of storytelling in either genre.
This film could be interpreted as an illustrated graphic novel with the 3D effects being optional. Leave it out, and you are still left with a film that balances many lives in the same line of vision without making the drama a slave to period or costumes. The film says, love in every lifetime will find its villain. Not a great or original thought. But then who said anything to do with love could ever be original? It's how you tell the tale of love that makes all the difference. Vikram Bhatt tells it with a deep-throated rush of passion .You may not believe in past lives. But this film sure makes you believe punar-janam has a future in our cinema.
A not to be missed experience.
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