May 10, 2002 
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A still from Ab Ke Baras
Ab Ke Baras: too many births spoil the broth
This reincarnation film confuses

Priyanka Bhattacharya

The Players:
Arya Babbar, Amrita Rao, Ashish Vidyarthi, Rajat Bedi, Manoj Joshi, Vishwajeet Pradhan, Neena Kulkarni, Ashutosh Rana, Shakti Kapoor and Danny Denzongpa

The Pitch:
Beautiful NRI Anjali (Amrita Rao) starts falling back to a past life on her 18th birthday. On seeking spiritual guidance, she is told that her true love is in India. If she does not meet him in this life, she never will. So it's ab ke baras or never.

Cut to Karan (Arya Babbar), an ordinary car thief who speaks English like a yuppie. Anjali runs off to India but keeps bumping into Karan everywhere. Together, they manage to antagonise the police and a couple of drug dealers.

In true filmi style, they not only outwit their pursuers, they also find time to sing a few songs and eventually fall in love.

Now comes the big question: does Anjali really love Karan or will she abandon him as soon as she finds her soulmate? Then again, Anjali fortuitously discovers that Karan is her true soulmate.

A flashback takes us to colonial India. Nandini and Abhay are freedom fighters in love with each other. In the struggle against the British Empire, Abhay finds his nemesis in Tejeshwar Singhal (Ashutosh Rana) --- an Indian soldier loyal to the British.

What next? Singhal gets Abhay murdered and Nandini kills herself in grief.

There's more. Karan now appears as Shaheed Abhay Singh declares vendetta against his killer. He is assisted by his erstwhile pursuer, DGP Baksh (Danny Denzongpa).

Of course, good triumphs over evil. And it is The End.

The hitch:
A still from Ab Ke Baras Director Raj Kanwar uses the tried-and-tested reincarnation formula. But he seems to lose focus somewhere along the film. So in spite of a decent beginning, the film gets hopelessly melodramatic and irksome post interval.

Songs keep cropping up at the most inopportune moments as Kanwar tries to fit in the elements of a masala potboiler; albeit unsuccessfully. As for the comedy track, it is better left unsaid.

On the acting front, things are better. Arya Babbar has potential but has a long way to go. He tends to ham at times. Amrita Rao exudes confidence and makes a decent debut.

The rest of the cast act out of habit and appear listless.

There are only two reasons for seeing this film: you are a big fan of reincarnation themes and thrive on films like Karz and Karan Arjun. Or you want to brace yourself for the plethora of Shaheed Bhagat Singhs coming up this summer by watching a teaser in the form of Shaheed Abhay Singh.


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