Friday, July 13, 2007

Rajeev Masand doesn't like the film either

From prolific filmmaker duo Abbas-Mustan comes this week's brand new release Naqaab.
In this film that's set in Dubai, newcomer Urvashi Sharma and Bobby Deol play a young couple engaged to be married. It’s another thing he's a multi-millionaire with a home the size of a palace, and she works at Burger King and pays him rent to live under his roof.
Just days before her marriage to Bobby, she meets and strikes up a friendship with an aspiring actor played by Akshaye Khanna. Sparks fly between the two, but on Urvashi's insistence their friendship is kept strictly platonic. On D-Day, however, just moments before she exchanges marriage vows with Bobby, Urvashi has a change of heart.
Up until this stage, the film made perfect sense to me, but it's from this point onwards that Naqaab turns truly bizarre. It would be unfair to reveal any more of the plot because that would give away the surprise element of the film. But believe me, you'd never have guessed where this film was going anyway, because it's so ridiculous and unimaginable. Now you're probably wondering why I'm complaining if the film is unpredictable, because unpredictable is a good thing, right? Well, there a difference between unpredictable and ridiculous, and the thing about the twists and turns in Naqaab is that they're absolutely ridiculous.
For years Abbas-Mustan have ripped off popular films from Hollywood and delivered successful Hindi remakes: Khiladi, Baazigar, Daraar, Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, Ajnabee, Humraaz and Aitraaz.
But with Naqaab they've hit their weakest note because it's a thriller without any thrills if you ask me. There's none of that nail-biting tension, no suspense and an anti-climax to top it all. I could pick a hundred holes in the screenplay but I don't even want to bother, because that would still mean putting in more effort than the writers and the directors have.
You know one's willing to suspend disbelief if your script can convince me to make that leap of faith. And Abbas-Mustan know that better than anyone else. We've happily gone along with their stories of mistaken identities, reincarnations, double roles, death-avenging relatives, and murderous spouses.
But with Naqaab they come up with something so bizarre that's it's really difficult to digest. In all honesty, I was so stunned by the banality of the plot that I was convinced this couldn't be a rip-off. It had to be some amateur writer's amateurish effort which Abbas-Mustan decided to direct.
But to my surprise I discovered that Naqaab is not only a bad script, it's also not an original script. Go to the internet and look up a film called Dot the I starring Gael Garcia Bernal. The directors of Naqaab have plundered, lock stock and barrel from that obscure American film. It's not just the plot and the premise of that film that's been borrowed, even dialogues from that film have been directly translated into Hindi and shamelessly used.
When a film's not working for you, you can usually find a million things to not like in it. As far as Naqaab is concerned, I have to ask if the costume designer of the film was smoking pot while at work. How else do you explain the horrifying clothes that she's draped most of the actors in—red lace gloves for the leading lady, pink satin shirt with a matching pink waistcoat for Bobby, and double-layered clothes for Akshaye. Hell, why? Also what's with all those ugly sets? From the outside Bobby's home looks like the Queen of England's holiday home, but the interiors are the kind of tasteless sets they used to construct at Hyderabad's Banjara Hills for those B-grade family dramas in the eighties. There's little one can say about the three actors in this film, they perform adequately but fail to make much of an impression and it's hardly their fault given the kind of material they're working with.
I'm going to go with one out of five and a thumbs down for Abbas-Mustan's Naqaab--it's far-fetched and illogical and there's hardly anything to like about it. The film's promos very correctly describe it as the most shocking thriller you'll see this year—honestly I still haven't recovered!


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