Attn: Deepali, Mark Shobhaa’s World 20th June 2010
What a disaster, Sirji!
Such a pity, the much-awaited ‘Dus Sarwalla’ turned out to be an unmitigated disaster! If only Mani Sir had made better use of his own ‘sar’, perhaps ‘Raavan’ would have fared better. A friend from Bangalore sent me a message that was pretty telling, when I mentioned I was watching the movie that evening. “ Do take a torch and a good book with you, dear,” Prasad advised. I got the message but ignored him, telling myself ( as countless Ratnam fans must have ), nothing Mani attempts can be all that bad. In fact, Mani doesn’t fall into the ‘mediocre’ category - even at his most uninspired. That’s his genius. I hope this garbled and confused movie does not permanently tarnish the reputation of one of our most talented film makers. Simply put, it is a bloody bore. Too long, too tedious and too pointless. As for the performances , poor Abhishek dives down nose first in the very first scene – he doesn’t come up for air after that. Not his fault ( I’m partial !). He is just such a loveable, good natured sort of chap, one just doesn’t associate brutality and violence with someone like him. And if his dark side is meant to hit audiences between the eyes, it seems childish to underline the point via black make up smeared all over his face and body, just in case we dummies don’t get the point. Between assorted face packs of haldi, ash ( not his beauteous wife, but ‘raakh’), keechad and other muck, this Ravan ( Beera) grins goofily through his evil deeds and seems incapable of hurting a makhhi’. Meanwhile, it is Dev ( Ram, played by Mr. Scowl), who does little more than glower into the camera, his expression disappointingly blank thanks to those strange brown cosmetic lenses ( the sort starlets use for portfolio pics). No wonder his lovely wife ( Ragini alias Sita ) makes cow eyes at Raavan and treats the besotted villain to glimpses of her creamy cleavage to torment and tempt the man further.
Forget all that Naxalite-waxalite, Aryan-Dravidian, Good Vs. Evil conflict or symbolism. Mani can’t seem to make up his mind about far more elementary issues – where the hell is the movie located and who are those strange looking tribals? Sometimes, the crowd scenes feature buxom village belles with streaked hair , super sexy backless cholis, city make-up, like extras from a Bhojpuri film. At other times the same bunch is dressed in sack cloth, but with colour coordinated accessories. Aishwarya’s iridescent beauty is exploited in close- up after close- up, while her jungle make up goes from just mascara and the perfect lipglossed pout, to heavy duty eyeliner and blush on. But at least the make up is waterproof. Which is a good thing, since almost the entire film is shot under lashings of rain or a waterfall. As for the divine Ash’s performance – what can she do if her director has her gagged (literally!) through most of the film? Worse, any self respecting heroine would also have lapsed into stupefied silence had she been forced to wear what must rank as the worst costumes ever! Sabyasachi…. really!!! First you do it to poor Vidya. And now Ash.
Moral of the story : One head is better than ten.
What is that they say about a single picture speaking more than a thousand words? If the Brothers Ambani deprived us presswallas of that anticipated ‘Kiss and make up’ photo- op last week, Rekha and Jaya Bachchan’s mwaah mwaah moment made up for it. Jaya’s expression as Rekha swooped down on her at a very public function, is worth noting. But both being consummate actresses, they recovered swiftly enough to compose their features suitably for the flashbulbs. That’s professionalism. If Jaya then went on to give the royal ignore to Rekha, it doesn’t count. The moment the film press had been holding its breath for (and twenty years is a long, long time to do that), came minus the expected drama, even if Jaya’s involuntary shudder was unmistakable and hard to miss. ‘Chumma Chumma de de…” crooned Mr. Bachchan many moons ago. Not sure he had reserved it for this kiss between his wife and errrr…his errrr…. co-star? The encounter sure gave those old lyrics a new meaning!