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Upperstall Review


Being Cyrus


English, Thriller, 2005, Color

Dinshaw (Naseeruddin Shah) is a stoned crazy sculptor living in Panchgani with his ageing yet voluptuous wife Katy (Dimple Kapadia). They take in a young guest Cyrus (Saif Ali Khan) as Dinshaw’s apprentice. Cyrus starts to shuttle between Dinshaw and Katy's Panchgani home and an old building in Mumbai where Dinshaw's aged and much neglected father Fardoonjee Sethna (Honey Chhaya), his diametrically opposite brother Farokh (Boman Irani) and way-too-young wife meek wife Tina (Simone Singh) live. As Cyrus treads through the complicated households, the cracks begin to show and he soon realises there are far too many skeletons in the cupboard and too much swept under the carpet. But who is really using whom?

Homi Adajania makes a promising enough debut with Being Cyrus. Yes, the film is quirky, odd, funny and black with some exhilarating moments and excellent performances but the end result still leaves you wanting something more. Somewhere this mix of black comedy and film noir doesn’t quite gel in totality leaving you with a film where one feels it’s not a bad effort but nothing more.

One must speak of the mounting of the film – of the Production Design, the creation of the Parsee Ambiance, Anaita Shroff Adajania’s costumes and Jehangir Chowdhury’s wonderful cinematography. Several Sequences in the film are extremely well handled and stand out – the sequence at the well where Dinshaw cuts his foot, the Policeman’s reaction to the cream in his tea or the interrogation scene of Dinshaw and Katy among others. The film makes very solid use of the voice over technique in true noir fashion and the voice over too is imaginative, witty and well written.

The performances are largely right on target. Naseerudddin Shah has for long been first and last choice for playing an eccentric Bawa and it’s something he has mastered down to perfection right down to the smallest detail. He effortlessly sails through his role as the stoned sculptor living in his own world. See him as he is lost and totally oblivious to the police interrogation even as he is charged with murder. It is yet another masterful performance from a masterful actor who never ceases to surprise you. Boman Irani is in equally fine form in home territory while Saif Ali Khan is more than credible. Manoj Pahwa enjoys himself thoroughly while Simone Singh is more than adequate. Dimple Kapadia tries gamely but ultimately is just not Parsee enough and one feels tends to go way over the top in order to compensate; But rather than totally blame the talented actress, perhaps it’s just a case of miscasting here on Homi’s part.

On the flip side, the dream sequence immediately post interval while stylishly done adds nothing to the film. Much of the quirky narrative flow is done through deliberate in-your-face obvious editing flourishes – the Black and White extreme close ups for example which are not successful always and in fact jar the narrative flow. Once when the late Renu Saluja was asked how she reacted when people congratulated her on her editing, she said she used to feel most embarrassed as according to her editing is not something people are supposed to notice! Certain sequences like the fight between Boman and Delna Patel over her dog biting him seem to go on and on and again don’t add much to the overall plot and yes, the background score too tends to get in your face at times. A little subtlety here would have helped. Also, the way the film is going and especially if you are familiar with film noir, you are prepared for a major twist in the second half and hence are able to work some of it (the Simone Singh track) even if not exactly how the flow of events really unfolded. It is here that the film loses its bearings. Maybe if flashes of Cyrus’s childhood were revealed here rather then being planted earlier in the film, the twist could have been far more effective.

But all in all, it is refreshing to see such an attempt being made in Indian Cinema and the film is certainly better than the usual run-of-the-mill fare that one is normally subjected to these days.

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