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'Stumped' by a forgettable experiment
Priya Ganapati | May 16, 2003 21:49 IST
Offbeat films are the latest fad in Bollywood.
Granted, the audience is bored of conventional love stories and there is an overwhelming need for new ideas. But experimenting for the sake of it can be disastrous. A spate of badly made offbeat films will easily kill the audiences' newly awakened risk appetite.
Stumped, produced by Raveena Tandon and directed by Gaurab Pandey, falls in this category.
The film has an interesting premise. It is the story of a woman, Reema Seth (Raveena), whose husband, Major Raghav (Aly Khan), is called away to the battlefront during the Kargil war, even as her neighbourhood, full of cricket-crazy fans, is looking forward to World Cup 1999.
As she spends her days in agony, trapped in the uncertainty of not knowing if her husband will come back alive, her neighbours are oblivious to her plight. Their only concern is how India will fare in the World Cup.
The film's ensemble cast includes Anjan Shrivastava, Asha Sachdev, Suresh Menon and Salman Khan in a single-song appearance.
Written and directed by debutant Pandey, Stumped lacks a seamless narrative and emotional high points. It has too many sub-plots -- an adolescent neighbour with a crush on Reema, a stereotypical south Indian chasing an Anglo-Indian woman, a Punjabi household where the man of the house is unwilling to buy a television set -- all of which are unequivocally boring.
Pandey had the lofty aim of showing that Kargil was more important than the World Cup, but comes nowhere near achieving it. There is no interplay of the exhilaration of watching India win a cricket match versus the turmoil of a woman whose husband is away at war.
Raveena, as producer, has paid little attention to detail. The sets (Tarun Agasthi) are extremely tacky, especially when the action shifts to the battlefield.
When her husband is declared missing in action, Raveena suddenly shifts to stark white saris and salwar-kameezes that jar terribly.
The acting is mediocre. As Major Seth, Aly barely registers in what turns out to be a fairly curtailed role. Raveena's character is so underdeveloped that she cannot be faulted for not having much to do in the film.
As for the music, it is strictly for the tone-deaf. Stumped has three songs, one of which sees Salman in a much-hyped special appearance. He bares his torso, shakes his butt, and gets jiggy, but just a little melody could have helped the song a lot more.
Pandey, credited with story and direction, solely bears the cross for Stumped's failure. His script is incoherent and lacks good character development and memorable dialogues. As director, he is unable to make up even a tad for the script's shortcomings.
In an interview to rediff.com published today, Pandey talked about how Indian cricketers were roped in to 'transmit important messages'. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Kapil Dev have pitched in. Sadly, like everything else in the movie, this jars as well. It seems contrived and makes no impact, though the movie begins with these clips.
In all, Stumped should be regarded as an experiment best forgotten in the lab.
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