Monday, 13 April 2009

Not picture perfect

Nagesh Kukunoor and Akshay Kumar team up but fail to thrill, writes Sneha May Francis

8x10 Tasveer
Rating **

In a nutshell
It is said that photographs capture a moment in time. This seems obvious, but it is the entire premise for Nagesh Kukunoor’s latest film 8x10 Tasveer. In it, the protagonist Jai (Akshay Kumar) has supernatural powers that allow him to mentally step into a photograph. It is this that helps him to solve the secret behind his dad’s fatal boating accident.

The tale
Jai has supernatural powers that help him travel back in time for a minute after a photograph is taken. An 8x10 photograph (tasveer) of his father Jatin Puri (Benjain Gilani) just before his death has Jai running from pillar to post to find the murderer. And the man can run: his athletic prowess is highlighted every few shots. He chases everyone and everything. His power is such that even the gigantic GMC Yukon is scared of a head-on collision with him!
Jai’s a forest officer who is so zealous in his work (to the point of jumping off cliffs to find clues on crimes against the environment), that he’s clearly not normal. So if that’s what Kukunoor wanted to tell us, he was successful.

Jai’s dad mouths a clue to his son just before he dies, suggesting wrongdoing. But it’s the eccentric cop ‘Happi, with an I’ (Jaaved Jaafri) who convinces him to look further. So begins the journey through the photograph taken by his mum (Sharmila Tagore) a minute before the accident.

The loopholes
^ We are told that all Jai needs to look into the past is an 8x10 photograph taken a minute before an incident occurs. The 8x10 size is stressed, to justify the title perhaps. But Kukunoor slips when introducing Jai’s unique power as he is seen reading the past through a mobile-phone picture. And it’s not an 8x10 mobile phone screen that Jai is peering into!
^ We do know that Jai’s lady love, Sheela Patel, played by the lovely Ayesha Takia, has a job, but what it is we don’t know, nor do we know how these two met.
^ Jai can only see a minute after a photograph is taken when looking into the past. So what would have happened if the photograph was taken 2 minutes before the murder? Pretty convenient, right?
^ The annoying cop Happi is obsessed with cleanliness but when he goes through files in his office, he rummages around without even wiping off the dust!

The lead acts
^ Jai: Aki looks dazed and his face is expressionless. His finest moment is when he mouths: ‘Everybody thinks I’m mad. Do you think I am?’ No comment.
^ Sheela: There’s nothing really in Ayesha Takia’s chubby-faced performance. Perhaps married life has made Takia dull.

^ Jaaved Jaafri is brilliant as Happi-with-an-I. But something falls short and we think the poor comic writing is to blame.
^ A good supporting cast – Anant Mahadevan, Sharmila Tagore, Girish Karnad, Benjamin Gilani. These artists’ controlled performances come with age and experience. They don’t falter. It’s only the length of their role and their poorly etched characters that let them down.

Thumbs down
^ For a thriller to work, it needs a tight script, crisp editing, eerie background music and slick special effects. But this film misses the mark on all of these.
^ The bad men are just not bad enough. There’s no sense of real anger or motive.

Aki lends his voice to the song at the end of the film. But after sitting through the movie we couldn’t bear to hear the man sing, so can’t really comment.

The turn-out
On a usually busy Thursday evening, and during the film’s opening night, the theatre was almost completely empty at the Grand Sahara, Sharjah. Telling?

The only reason to watch...
You want to spend around two and a half hours watching Ashkay Kumar running. Or you’ve had a fight with your spouse and were kicked out of the house.

*: Not worth your time
**: Barely watchable
***: Wait for DVD
****: Head to the cinema
*****: Stalk the cast

(Published in e+, Gulf News, Dubai: April 16, 2009 issue)

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