Sunday, May 8, 2005

Karam (2005)

Sanjay F Gupta graduates from a Music Video Director to Movie Director with this movie, and it shows. While watching the movie, you realize what the director intended to show, but could not put it up on the screen exactly as he visualized it. His movie works well in short-spans, and then mellows to mediocre fare, until it lifts again. And not very surprisingly, the best portions of the movie are the build up to the songs, which seamlessly blend into the movie's narrative.

This movie is about an assassin John (John Abraham) on a guilt-trip, who wants to lay his weapons after mistakenly killing (almost) an entire family. He has a lovely wife Shalini (Priyanka Chopra) who sings at a restaurant (and is thankfully not a bar-dancer). At the same time, the delicate balance between the underworld dons of Mumbai is being tipped to one side, as a faction tries to kill off John's boss aptly named Captain (a loud debut by stage artiste Bharat Dabholkar). In vengeance, and on John's reluctance, Captain holds Shalini captive to make John pick his weapon and kill the opposition. What follows is a little story of crossing and double-crossing as John plays side to side, all the while looking out for his own. On his trail is Inspector Wagh (a very confident debut by Shiny Ahuja).

Again, a different story and a nice performance by John Abraham. He looks the part and plays the part well. Technically sound (because of his background), the director handles new technology very nicely. This is the only Hindi movie I know that uses Color Grading to proper effect. Slow-motion with such smooth movements I have only seen in Kaante before (ironically, director by another Sanjay Gupta). He also uses a technique that I have read been described as a lift from Kill Bill - there is an animated sequence at the beginning to establish the story. This nicely done sequence is more reminiscent of Kamal Hassan's underrated psycho-serial-killer thriller Abhay.

The movie is also quite violent by regular standards - Captain sends John his wife's sliced finger to get him going...

The most amazing part of the movie for me was it's songs (but obviously coming from this director), especially the title song: "Tera Hi Karam". Shot with John in heavy depression and being played on all sides, it shows him as down in the dumps as possible with all the other characters getting their own highs. The whole sequence is done in slo-mo, with John in one end of the screen standing head-down in heavy heavy rain. There's a guy at the other end of the screen whipping himself on a bare back (some people do that to punish themselves). This is inter-cut with the perversions of the villains : Captain's got a car battery wired to his temples and gives himself shocks; Yunus (another gangsta) is dressed in ladies underwear and is feeling himself and dancing in front of a mirror (whoa!!). Has something even half as 'dark' as this ever been shown on Indian Cinema screens? Although the movie is below a well-made movie, but it is the effort that is very much visible and gets the movie its marks. You know that the director can do better next time 'round. Here's hoping he does, and stays in the dark territory.

My rating --> 3 of 5

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