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RAKHT (**1/2)

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Joined: 01 June 2004
Posts: 6831

Posted: 04 September 2004 at 6:37am | IP Logged
SUBHASH K JHA - Indiatimes Review
Starring :Bipasha Basu, Sanjay Dutt, Suniel Shetty, Dino Morea, Himanshu Malik, Amrita Arora, Neha Dhupia, Rajit Bedi, Payal Rohatgi & Abhishek Bachchan

Directed by : Mahesh Manjrekar

Rating : **1/2

Not often do we get a mainstream Hindi cinema that allows some of our biggest stars to defiantly depart from their images. Rakht gives macho actors like Sanjay Dutt, Suniel Shetty and Dino Morea a chance to broaden their histrionic horizons in unexpected and startling ways.

Most of all the plot gives over the plot to the leading lady. Playing a widowed clairvoyant with a growing son. Bipasha Basu gets into character like never before.

From the time he made Nidaan(Bollywood?s first film on AIDS) Mahesh Manjrekar has always been an envelope-pusher. Even an awful film like Pitah went into the unexpectedly shocking territory of juvenile rape.

Rakht again takes us into unexpected territory(including child abuse which is peripherally brought in through Suniel Shetty?s traumatized character). Journeying into the dark and unknown sphere of occultism through the eyes of the aptly named Drishti(Bipasha) Rakht springs up some stock shocks and unorthodox surprises, specially in the way mainstream stars have been projected.

Alas, the innovations in the plot and characterizations, though commendable, do not take the film far enough for us to rejoice in the aura of newness.

The core element in the plot is borrowed from an appalling Hollywood supernatural thriller Sam Rami?s The Gift. Though unpalatable the original had its share if sturdy performances. Like Shekhar Kapur ?s adaptation of Man Woman & Child (Masoom) Manjrekar goes beyond the original. His innovations in the original plot are quite clever, if not entirely impressive.

Though the jolting soundtrack and scenic soothing green setting are typical of all suspense thrillers from the riveting Kudrat in the 1970s to the appalling Shikari earlier this year Rakht LOOKS more aesthetic than your average shiver giver. Manjrekar?s steady cinematographer Vijay Arora applies luminous lenses to the leaping suspense.

In no recent thriller has the cast looked so fetching. Not just Bipasha(who?s beautifully packaged to look deep dark and mysterious) but Neha Dhupia who looks frail and vulnerable as the battered wife (far more so than her other ?hit? performance in Julie) . And Amrita Arora as the nyphomaniacal murder victim gives her role an adrenaline-charged no-holds-barred vibrancy.

Yup, this is woman?s film , though the feminine brigade tends to get unwieldy when item songs are thrown in for no reason except to lighten the suspenseful load. What, for instance, is Yana Gupta doing shaking her booty in that ?Babe? song ? Or Amrita Arora breaking into gelatinous gyrations at the drop of a hat?.or do I mean other items of clothing?

Curiously the leading lady gets no songs to sing! Bipasha , busy wth her visions and cards, just doesn?t get the time for trivial pursuits. Even in her ?item song? with Abhishek Bachchan(playing ?love? as opposed to malevolence) Bipasha simply swings to the beat, thereby completing the picture of role reversal whereby the heroine becomes the film?s hero.

If the ladies are interestingly varied in their projection there?s a gallery of watchable male stars from Dutt(bespectacled and shy) and Shetty(stuttering and repressed) to Sachin Khadekar(maniacally cynical as a lawyer) and Manjrekar?s lucky mascot Shivaji Satam(who appears for a fleeting part )?.each man knows his place in the plot and makes best use of it. Among the men Dino Morea as the wife-beater is specially interesting. His performance draws a very fine line between violence and evil.

Though Rakht sails through its turbulent theme on the strength of the actors and characters, it faces rough weather on the narrative level. Manjrekar maintains a disquieting calm at the the heart of the anguished plot. But the deliberately loud and ?shocking? soundtrack, replete with unoiled hinges and the anguished sounds of unhinged characters, suggest that the film finally wants to belong at the centre of the suspense genre.

As a whodunit Rakht doesn?t have much meat to chew on?.or heat to stew on. . The denouement when it comes puts the plot in a barely contained panic. Watch this film for the way Manjrekar uses mainstream stars, specially Bipasha who's exotic enigmatic and oh-so-erotic in spite of a 8-year old son rather than a 28-year old stud to share her bed.

The enterprising spirit and not ESP is clearly the USP of this khilte-hain-ghoul-yahan spinechiller . Bipasha fraternizes with ghosts as though they were her buddies. The spirit is chilling and the flesh is clearly weak ?thank God!

Edited by MysticaMagic - 04 September 2004 at 6:41am

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