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Review: 8x10 Tasveer
Posted on: 05-04-2009 , 04:: | DY365 Bureau

Had you not known it for a fact, you wouldn’t believe that Nagesh Kukunoor of superlative films like Iqbal, Hyderabad Blues and Teen Deewarein is writer-director of this one. Following the current trend of mainstream leading men taking up characters contrasting their image (Aamir Khan explored action in Ghajini); Akshay Kumar plays a character blessed with supernatural powers that transport him back in time through photographs. (After Aa Dekhen Zaraa where the character could see into the future through photos, the camera seems to be Bollywood’s newest favourite accessory for psychic themes.)


When his father (Benjamin Gilaini) falls off a yatch and dies, Jai (Akshay) is keen to explore how it happened by reading the last-taken photograph, which had his father standing with a few trusted friends.


While Jai tries convincing himself that it was an accident, detective Happi (with an i not y, the dialogue keeps reminding) who was indebted to Jai’s father is certain it was murder. Jay decides to focus again from the perspective of every individual in the photograph, to get a clearer `picture’ of what really happened. Helping him through this ordeal is girlfriend Shiela (Ayesha Takia), even as he wonders who in the photograph, or perhaps all, killed his father so brutally. Shockingly, Tasveer uses the B-grade flick trick of showing a mysterious hooded person whose face is hidden, just as the film breaks for intermission.


Throughout the film, there are enough opportunities for true-blue suspense. But scenes that are supposed to make us tense have us crack-up. Sample this: Jai and Sheila are in a murder suspect’s house. Jai asks her to search downstairs, while he looks upstairs. “Par dhoondna kya hai?” asks Sheila, as if they were on a treasure hunt. “Sabooot!” whispers back Jai, and you wonder if you’re watching a school play.


Tasveer loses and gains focus so many times, you’re disconnected from the story. At one time it’s about Akshay’s clairvoyant powers; then it turns into a murder mystery; then into something resembling a psychological revenge drama. Through the film’s flitting in-and-out of several genres, there’s one constant – an absolute glossing over nuances and no explanation of characters’ motives.


The ending is most disappointing; and 100 percent unconvincing. If a masala, brainless thriller is what Kukunoor wants to offer, he must remember there are others who are pros at the game. When Kukunoor who’s an adept filmmaker tries doing an Abbas-Mustan, even keeping an Akshay Kumar rap song with blonde dancers, you wonder what’s the point.


The point, perhaps, is Akshay Kumar. The thinking seems to be that having the superstar is good enough, and the film is likely to run no matter what. Clearly then, the onus of the film rests on Akshay Kumar alone. And despite his earnestness, he too is let down by the perplexing characterization. You realize that early on as you see Akshay jumping down a 100-foot cliff straight into water and entering a pub later drawling `drinks are on me’. If Akshay doing stunts and herogiri is Kukunoor’s idea of using the actor, his perspective is no different from the others. Javed Jaffery adds some light-hearted flavor as his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder suffering detective, clearly inspired by the TV series Monk.


Even technically, the film falters. Editing is patchy and keeps the films moving very slowly. Screenplay appears to be a confused pot of several ideas. Dialogue is archaic with Canada-based people using words like hakeekat, aspatal (hospital) and baksa (box). The supreme saving grace is the marvelous cinematography. Canada has never looked this beautiful with snow-capped mountains off-setting a tray of yellow trees and teal lakes.


Whether as a paranormal thriller, murder mystery, or an action drama Tasveer simply doesn’t cut it.


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