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Upperstall Review

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Maharathi

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Hindi, Thriller, 2008, Color



Cast And Crew

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Subhash (Paresh Rawal) has spent the last 10 years unsuccessfully trying to get acting parts in films. He makes ends meet by his uncanny ability to think on his feet committing small time cons on unsuspecting victims.One night he saves a man's life and accompanies the injured man back home. Subhash is awe struck at the grandeur and affluence of Mr Adenwalla. (Naseeruddin Shah). Soon enough he is hired by the grateful Adenwalla as his driver. The wife Mallika Adenwalla (Neha Dhupia) resents Subhash for his proximity to her husband. On the other hand, Adenwalla, driven to the point of insanity by his money hungry wife decides to take the ultimate revenge. He puts his wife in a catch 22 situation by throwing down a challenge. Subhash recognizes this as an opportunity to rid him-self of a life time of middle class poverty. He collaborates with Mallika to acquire all the money and property. Working hand in glove, they get a caretaker (Tara Sharma) with the help of their family lawyer (Boman Irani) to be a witness to an ailing Mr Adenwallas presence in the house which they concoct their plans. False alibis, double-crossing, phony kidnappings to hidden agendas wreck havoc all around. And even the best laid plans can go awry...



What did this film not have going for it? Film buffs must’ve had some serious expectations entering theaters for this one: a film starring the four pillars of character acting in India: Naseeruddin Shah, Paresh Rawal, Boman Irani, and Om Puri – all stars in their own right; a non-Bollywood whodunit based on original writing (on a Gujarati play by the same name actually) and devoid of any songs with an indie film feel to it; and a talented director in Shivam Nair who made a mostly unnoticed but rock solid debut with Ahista Ahista. This film could’ve been landmark stuff. But it’s turns out to be a boring, tottering tortoise of an experience: solid from the outside, mostly khokla in the middle and very, very slow.

The main problem with the film is that it is too long. This should’ve have been a crisp 90-minuter but it goes on and on and on ambling towards a predictable end that the audience sees coming from the moment the plot actually kicks in, which is well past the 30 minute mark. Not even all these great actors can hold what is essentially a single-location drama that meanders away for over 2 hours. The script is insipid, predictable with a only a couple of instances of dialogue that evoke a reaction.

Shivam Nair’s direction is so inept that one wonders if he was actually present on set. Despite several attempts, there is not a single tense moment where a viewer is on the edge of the seat hoping/praying one way or the other for the protagonists – such an essential part in a whodunit thriller. The camerawork is extremely inept. There isn’t a single innovative shot – the film pretends to be noir but is shot like an amateur video with great big faces plastering the screen and no effort in lighting for the mood. The editing is pathetic – simple cuts that could’ve sped up the pace are missing and shots go on endlessly. Man enters car, man drives, man drives some more, man reaches destination, man opens door, man shuts door. Oh come on already. It’s almost as if they were making an effort to lengthen the film.

But it is the casting coup that is actually the real bane of the film. Paresh Rawal has the biggest role and this is a miscasting of epic proportions. He is playing a conman who gets employed in a house inhabited by a drunk who kills himself, his wife and a maid who’s an architect (!). Had Rawal’s role been essayed by a regular young hero who didn’t look inexplicably haggard and botoxed then the possibilities would’ve been endless: imagine if it only wasn’t about the money – but also lust for the wife and a triangle created by the architect maid? What if the wife (Dhupia) turned out to be a femme fatale in a traditional sense and wasn’t only dressing like one and actually acted like one? He would be a young man leading an optimist’s life, a straight guy who finds himself sucked into an opportunity of a lifetime: 24 crores for the taking and 2 hot women lusting after him. What does he choose? And what does he end up with? Rawal of course ends up with a yellow house – you’ll know what I’m talking about if you bother watching the film – and that is really not fun.

As for the famed performances – Paresh Rawal is not up to it. He seems enthusiastic but is just not on the ball with his character. Naseeruddin Shah is adept in his short-lived presence, Boman Irani is the only one who seems to have understood the graphing of his role, Om Puri looks like he’s just gotten up from his bed and ambled across the street to give a shot, Dhupia is cast well but is undone by the script, and Tara Sharma – well one is not sure about anything pertaining to her character or performance.

Maharathi is a huge disappointment for everyone who was waiting for performance sparks to fly and is a boring film to boot.


Upperstall review by: filmbear





 

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