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|July 24, 2000||
Not upto the mark!
M D Riti
If you take a fairly stale story but tell it very lyrically, can you make a lasting impression on your viewers?
Well-known Kannada film director Sunil Kumar Desai, known more for his treatment of his subjects and his narration than for any originality in storylines, obviously believes you can.
His latest release Sparsha (The Touch), coming as it does after a gap of more than two years, is brave enough as to cast two unknowns, Sudeep and Rekha, as hero and heroine. And to feature them in the old staple, a love triangle. Like Kaho Naa... Pyaar Hai, Desai relies largely on music to carry this film through. But the music is, of course, of a very different genre: it is soft, melodious and full of Kannada shayari.
Sudeep has acted in a couple of films, Pratyartha and Thayavva, and the small amount of experience he has gained makes him definitely more relaxed before the camera than Rekha, who has been a sportswoman all her life.
The third angle of the triangle is former leading lady Sudha Rani, who emigrated to the US after marrying a doctor, a la Madhuri Dixit, but who is now attempting a comeback. Sudha, who won the hearts of her viewers in her debut in matinee idol Rajkumar's eldest son Shivaraj Kumar's own first film, Anand, over a dozen years ago, now looks distinctly faded and weary.
The story is simple enough. Sudeep, who bears the same name in the film too, is a model who falls in love with a sweet young thing called Suma (Rekha) while on a shoot in Ooty. The young couple seem all set to live happily ever after, until a moment of carelessness on Sudeep's part changes everything forever. An excited Sudeep, rushing to see off his beloved at the Ooty railway station, accidentally knocks an unknown young woman, Radha (Sudha Rani), into the path of a moving train.
Radha does not see who knocked her over, but only catches a glimpse of the jacket he wears. The accident causes her to lose a leg, as well as the love of her fiance. A repentant Sudeep is afraid to tell either Radha or Suma that he was responsible for the accident. He knows that Suma, who is known to be a rather unforgiving kind, is bound to break off with him if she knows he caused the accident. So he decides that, since Suma is probably a lost cause anyway, he might as well assuage his own guilt by offering to marry Radha instead.
Suma is hurt by his sudden change of heart, but accepts his decision as an act of good Samaritanism. Radha accepts his offer too, but continues to hunt for the man who knocked her over. It would be a shame to tell you which woman finally wins, although you will probably have guessed correctly by now anyway.
Sparsha definitely lacks that special appeal that Desai's earlier films, Beladingala Baale and Nishkarsha, had. Baale particularly did much better than it was expected to, telling the unusual story of a young woman who tantalises her lover and leads him on a long chase in search of her identity, only to have him discover her when she is dead. Nishkarsha did hurt the sensitivities of some viewers as it was full of mindless violence, but its gripping plot was about a group of people held hostage for a few hours by terrorists. Both films had tried and proven lead actors.
Where Sparsha seems to fall short is in the acting skills of its lead pair. Rekha comes across as rather wooden, while Sudeep certainly has the chocolate box good looks that his role calls for, but fails to deliver any powerful histrionics. Hamsalekha's music, sung by a variety of well known singers like Pankaj Udhas, Hariharan, Sonu Nigam and Kavita Krishnamurthy, have also been picturised well by Desai. Some are grand, like Chandakintha chanda, while others like Paduvara dikkinalli are sweet and pretty.
Desai's films are known to be tasteful and sensitive -- and Sparsha certainly fills the bill in that regard. His supporting cast, of well-known comedians and character actors like Sihikahi Chandru and Kashi, provide a good backup. If only the stars had had more charisma or talent, this film by Desai might have made him even better remembered than his past ventures.
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