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Where is the mystery in Soch?
Sanjay, Raveena waste their chance in Sushen Bhatnagar's wannabe thriller

Priya Ganapati

Thrillers are a genre not frequently attempted in Bollywood. It takes more skill to pull off a complex plot than it does a comedy track, a few song and dance numbers and an action sequence.

Few are willing to break the rules of the game. But if it is not a gripping tale, all you have is a tiresome wannabe to show for the efforts.

Soch is the wannabe. It aims to be a thriller, but degenerates to the regular hero chasing the villain through the streets of Mumbai, beating him up and rescuing the girl. The plot is slightly more complicated though.

Raj Matthew (Sanjay Kapoor) is a film star whose marriage is a living hell. His wife Madhulika (Aditi Govitrikar), a starlet who left cinema at the peak of her career to marry him, is insanely jealous of his relationship with director Preeti Sardesai (Raveena Tandon). She suspects the two are having an affair and refuses to believe anything to the contrary. Though Preeti loves Raj, she respects his marriage and does not cross the line of friendship.

As Madhulika continues to simmer and suspect her husband of imagined infidelities, their life becomes a nightmare, till in a fit of pique, Raj tells a stranger Om (Arbaaz Khan) that it would be convenient to have her dead and out of his life. Om offers Raj a bargain. In return for killing his wife, Raj will murder Om's father, DCP Nautiyal, whom he desperately wants to see dead. Raj laughs it off, but says it is a neat idea.

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Soon, Madhulika is dead and it is Raj's turn to keep his side of the deal. Till then, he has Om terrorising him and Preeti, alternately coercing and coaxing him to commit murder.

Soch calls itself a thriller --- it really tries hard --- but the essential elements are missing. There is no suspense, heightened expectation, uncertainty, anxiety or the nerve-wracking tension that gets the adrenaline flowing.

Aditi Govitrikar, Sanjay Kapoor in Soch Part of what takes away the pleasure from Soch is that the protagonists leave little to the imagination. Almost every future action is spelt out loud and every potential move thought out in great detail. That leaves the viewers with little to look forward to and the story morphs into the good guy chasing the bad guy routine. When that happens, you know the hero will kill the villain and, in this case, because the pistol is in every other frame, the villain will be shot to death.

Therein lies the climax so obvious that it takes the fun out of watching the film.

The indifferent acting and flawed screenplay leave visible scars on the movie. The music and song picturisations make you jump for the nearest exit. The same goes for a comedy track that is about a guy from Bihar who wants to become a politician and thinks that committing a murder is a prerequisite.

First-time writer-director Sushen Bhatnagar has failed to develop the plot. He uses the very cliched style of storytelling, flashbacks to bring out scenes from the past, slow camera movements to build tension and song sequences for every 20 minutes of narrative. Bhatnagar's lack of eye for detail and continuity is another drawback. Songs pop out while little connection to the earlier scene, a butterfly tattoo on Tandon's arm keeps disappearing and appearing through different scenes.

In her second movie --- the first was a bit role in Mani Shankar's 16 December, a thriller starring Milind Soman and Dipannita Sharma --- Aditi Govitrikar typifies the dumb blonde. She is stunningly beautiful, but can't pull off her role as the jealous, crazy wife. While her drop-dead gorgeous looks keep your eyes riveted to her onscreen, that also backfires as you acutely realise her failings --- her stiff body language, her expressionless grey-green eyes and her poor emoting. Raveena Tandon, Sanjay Kapoor in Soch

Sanjay Kapoor lands a plum role as the hero facing the consequences of a careless remark, fighting a jealous wife and later coming to terms with the fact that he does love the woman with whom he has been constantly linked with. His is probably the most coherent character in the story. But Kapoor fritters away the chance. He doesn't go beyond the brief given to him. The result is that Kapoor stunts the character to a run-of-the-mill hero who never gains the audience's sympathy --- be it when his wife fights with him publicly at what is his proudest moment nor when he finds himself trapped in a bargain with the devil.

Raveena Tandon, who last year won the National Award for Best Actress for her role in Kalpana Lajmi's Daman, barely passes muster in this film. Though her character --- a director in love with her married leading man --- does have a lot of potential, the poor conceptualisation of her role leaves her out in the cold. With a script that greatly constraints her talent, Tandon cannot be blamed for being part of a very mediocre effort.

The only one who is credible is Arbaaz Khan as the psychopath, out to make the hero keep his side of the deal. He makes a fine villain. He is believable, menacing, sinister and has the audience's sympathy, all without resorting to over-the-top theatrics. But then, Khan has been in these roles before and, in a way, his character is a deja vu from his debut film, Abbas Mustan's Daraar.

In all, Soch is betrayed by the people who are the closest to it --- the insipid director, the lifeless actors and a crew that, despite the chance, do not go beyond the ordinary.

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