Vantage point

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Review of Khel Shuru

Khel Shuru has been marketed as a "different" NRI film, so much so that it has been produced by a company called Differential Films. Its positives are that it is indeed different. It does not have any of the stereotypical humour, wisecracks about grad student life, or H1B visas, FOB vs ABCD clashes etc that one usually expects in an NRI film. The filming location, presumably a jungle in Ohio, is very picturesque. And the movie is just 90 minutes long. Unfortunately, the positives end there.

It is not enough to just be different from the mainstream. It is not enough to just mechanically make sure that you have implemented learnings from every lecture in film school. You need a gripping narrative, particularly when you pitch your movie as a suspense thriller. You need slick editing. You need good performances. And you need to make sure your 90 minute movie does not seem like a 90 hour ordeal.

The film-makers, in their zeal to be different, probably tried to inject too much into the movie. Male bonding and unbonding, intra-group romantic permutations, nostalgia, Mithun jokes, coincidences, innuendo, a bizarre and quite frankly meaningless coming-out-of-the-closet moment, and a lot more that just whizzes by. The film tastes like a bhelpuri gone wrong.

One can almost hear the writers think to themselves - "we nee to flesh out the characters.. we need to flesh out the characters... we need to flesh out the characters...". It seems like they were too focused on the fact that they were fleshing out the characters to actually make sure this fleshing-out was meaningful. It seems like whoever was writing the back-stories just lost interest midway. At the end of the movie, the characters seem like half-drawn stick people abandoned by a kindergarten kid.

The story itself is extremely predictable. From the trailers and the previews, you know what is going to happen. Seven friends, playing a gambler's version of hide and seek, run into some gangsters who look like they will kill them. A twist towards the end is to be expected. But this very twist, the supposed coup-de-grace which could have salvaged the meandering film, is extremely bizarre. And I don't mean "bizarre" in a Charlie Kaufman or David Lynch way. I mean bizarre in the way vegetable korma at a 5-dollar Indian lunch buffet is bizarre.

About the performances, the less said the better. I am not going and looking up the names of all the actors because I don't have the heart to trash each of them personally.

In conclusion, the movie just ended up seeming like one of those mis-shapen bowls or ashtrays that your aunt who passionately took a pottery class made and gifted you with a proud twinkle in her eye. You politely say, "Thanks, it's nice" and later tuck it away at the back of the closet hoping to never find it. I hope the memory of having watched this movie recedes into the folds of my brain in much the same way.

P.S. - Oh, there was another positive, sort of. The movie has been released on google video for $ 1.99. If you have a fast enough internet connection, it is an excellent way to watch a movie. Other off-beat film-makers with a meagre budget could try this distribution channel to reach a wider audience.

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