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Anil Kapoor's A Series Of Unfortunate Events
Raja Sen |
August 19, 2005 12:47 IST
Anil Kapoor has persecution in his eyes. Perhaps it's the years of being written off as an A-list star; being constantly devalued and underrated by critics; or the ignominy of his filmography increasingly consisting of movies produced by his brother. Either way, it makes him a perfect choice for this role. His character, Ravi Patwardhan, goes through a pretty messy time, and Kapoor lends the film awesome credibility.
Patwardhan is a video editor, realistically working often-insane hours in an unrealistically client-free studio. His assistant, Reena, played by Nandana Sen, is guilty of being an attractive girl, something that irks his wife no end.
Sheila Patwardhan, brought to life with an appropriately annoying cameo by Suchitra Krishnamoorthy, is the definitive nag. Day in, day out, she blatantly accuses her non-confrontational husband of having an affair, lambasting Reena with the vilest of expletives. Ravi, as any man would be, is weary. All he wants is some quiet. The eventual silence he finds, however, is accompanied by a corpse.
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My Wife's Murder operates with a superbly interesting premise. Death, like the snapping of a twig, or the fall of a house of cards, happens instantly. And irrevocably. Ravi Patwardhan could, and knowing his character, will, spend the rest of his life regretting the very moment his wife died, but that's a scene the editor can't quite rewind.
The deed is done, and blood is on the bedroom floor. As he sees himself reflected in the limpid scarlet pool, he's clueless. Cops? But that'll mean prison, what about the kids? Before he has time to think things through, the doorbell rings.
With this arrival of the bai begins Ravi's desperate, reckless misadventure as he traipses through flimsily cobbled together deceits. He's a man frazzled to the extreme, but completely relatable as Kapoor manages to shine with this rather straight-man role.
He hyperventilates, but he has bloody cause to! He pants, he huffs, and he stammers nervously – this is a man on the run, and this is an actor staying off the ham. Anil's always been a very fine actor, and it's a script like this that allows him to fully explore his range. This character needs believability, and he delivers.
Another man who delivers, as always, is Boman Irani. Seemingly going from strength to strength, the comedian might toss in a smile or two in this film, but his sunny demeanour is superbly replaced by casual, sardonic smirks. He's a cop, and he's sniffed something fishy. Doggedly on the trail, his inspector Tejpal Randhawa chomps constantly on junk food and lies to his wife, also a nag. He relates to the number of jhagras a marriage can bring, and is convinced of Ravi's guilt. This is the best performance of the film, a nicely fleshed out and well-scripted character done more than justice, by an actor at the top of his game. Wow.
Nandana Sen, as Reena, plays a very interesting character with a lot written between the lines. Behind her reverence for Ravi 'sir' hides a surefire crush, and when she becomes a part of the imbroglio, she joins in with great, stupid gusto. Ridiculously thrilled by all the drama the situation holds, Reena throws herself into the damsel-in-distress role, opening a brand new can of worms. Nandana is adequately natural, in a part calling for tremendous histrionics. Thankfully, the pretty girl can cry good. But it's important to mention that she follows in the tradition of Bengali actresses of the 70s – her Bangla inflection, like Sharmila Tagore, Rakhi, or Moushumi Chatterjee, is absolutely impossible to miss.
This is Jijy Philips' directorial debut, and the young man has done well. With every dozen or so films that appear from Ram Gopal Varma's infamous Factory, occasionally emerges one genuine talent with something to offer more than mere shadow-and-background-score. Jijy, with cinematographer P S Vinod, has given the film very effective visual treatment. Stylistically, while MWM might seem derivative of a number of foreign directors, it eventually stands unique. The first half, in fact, is framed magnificently and edited with ruthless sharpness. Nice.
This flags when we move, out of conveniently dark bedrooms with Superman posters and soundproof editing suites, into daylight where the ambient lighting isn't as moody or atmospheric. The plot, too, usually taut and crisp, falters in patches in the second half. It almost drags, but then the director reins it in just in time. Less cynically, we could say those 'slow' bits are there to give the viewer time to comprehend Ravi's predicament, and think. More probably, we can say that the film could have been even tighter, cut by about 20 minutes.
My Wife's Murder is a fine film, a gripping story woven around an extremely thought-provoking story idea ending up making you question a million things, including marriage itself – all of the film's couples are miserable. Like any Factory movie, it's slick and dark -- this one just happens to also have a storyline.