7 Khoon Maaf is six stories too many

MUMBAI: Intermittently, someone experiments with a feature film with more than one story; the recent one was Mirch which had four short stories. 7 Khoon Maaf has seven stories, rather seven episodes in a woman’s life through her various marriages and husbands.

Producers: Ronnie Screwvala and Vishal Bhardwaj.
Director: Vishal Bhardwaj.
Cast: Priyanka Chopra, John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Irfaan Khan, Naseruddin Shah, Anu Kapoor, Aleksandr Dyachenko, Ruskin Bond, Vivaan Shah, Usha Uthup, Harish Khanna, Shahsi Kumar Malviya.

The film is based on Ruskin Bond’s Sussanna‘s Seven Husbands with some of Vishal Bhardwaj’s own input and a little inspiration from the 1960s Italian film, Vittorio De Sica’s Sette Volte Donna (Woman Times Seven).

Like its Italian counterpart, Vishal Bhardwaj also gives his seven stories different names like Adamkhor Major (Neil Nitin Mukesh), Ek Duje Ke Liye (John Abraham), Musafir Hun Yaaron (Irrfan Khan), Amar Prem (Aleksandr Dyachenko), Pyaar Ki Keemat (Anu Kapoor), Mushroom Da (Naseerduddin Shah) and Prem Pujary (She marries to the service of Jesus via Ruskin Bond).

Priyanka Chopra, a pretty looking lass has married an army major, older than her but dashing looking; he has earned a medal and a disability losing one leg in Operation Blue Star. He is a brutal man who terrorises his staff as well as wife, Priyanka. Out on a hunting trip, he is fed to a leopard by Priyanka and her butler.

Soon Priyanka falls for a guitar strumming John Abraham who is soon exposed for riding the success wave on strength of stolen songs. His success soon opens the door for him to drugs and women. That trait puts paid to his life on earth as he is soon found dead with an overdose of heroin.

A compulsive romantic, Priyanka soon discovers Irrfan Khan, a shayar, his shayari as well as his religion, Islam. Irrfan Khan has a Jekyll & Hyde personality; is a gentle poet by day but a violent sadomasochist by night. Well, she decides she can’t take it anymore and Irrfan is consigned to an icy tomb, alive.

It is interval time, three down and four more to go; four more to go? And to think that things have already started getting monotonous and predictable!

Fourth in line is Aleksandr Dyachenko, a sort of Russian spy who marries her for, from what one could gather, to be able to stay in India for as long as he wants to; he has a wife and kids back home in Russia. Priyanka can’t take a spy double crossing her. This time, they even make a song and dance about killing him!

Anu Kapoor has helped her get out of two murder charges by now, that of John Abraham and of Aleksandr Dyachenko, and likes to be paid in kind with some help from Viagra. He wants her for keeps and marries her, only to drop dead after a vigorous night. For a change, there is an interesting episode finally, that of husband number six, Naseeruddin Shah; it is him who wants her dead; for once she has a genuine reason to kill someone.

By this time the protagonist, Vivaan Shah, has caught up with her; she has been his benefactor and love. He has grown up adoring her. Now he is ripe enough for her to seduce. She declares her intent to marry seventh time. However, this time she is seeking Nirvana or to use an age old adage, ‘Sau chuhe khake billi Hajj ko chali’. She takes to the path of atonement, dedicating rest of her life to Lord Jesus and the cause of religion.

The seven story 7 Khoon Maaf is six stories too many. Because, in stretching a novella to a full length feature film script, it does not justify all the stories. One more marriage is treated like just one more day in life. The stories are so rushed through, nowhere do they manage to create either justification or drama in what is happening.

The only episode that has an iota of suspense element is Mushroom Da, with Naseeruddin Shah, the only time she is the target. The justification to kill husbands is weird; “it seems as a child she had two routes she could take to school, both identical in time taken and distance. A stray dog started harassing her on the route she took; instead of changing her route, she borrowed her father’s gun and killed the dog!” So rather than walk away from or divorce a husband, she would rather she killed him! After a couple of episodes, it looks more like she is marrying only to kill and enjoying doing it.

What could have helped the narrative was some genuine justification, may be TV serial writer could have done that to better results. Here, a story of a woman wronged by six men looks more like a charade; you neither hate the husbands nor empathise with Priyanka Chopra.

Director Vishal Bhardwaj has continued to play with light and shade treatment even while the narrative itself looks rudderless after first episode. Music is not much help either. Length of the film starts telling on the viewer after interval. Background score is monotonous. The title carries the tale one khoon further for the sake of using this phrase; there are only six really.

To sum it up, 7 Khoon Maaf is a pretentious, half baked story which has been made into a film which justifies none of its essentials; and, if performances are good by a few artistes, it is purely by their own merit and not that of script.

While Priyanka Chopra may change her husbands and make-up thanks to foreign technician, she does not change her expressions. Of the six husbands, Neil Nitin Mukesh and John Abraham don’t bother to act; Naseeruddin Shah and Anu Kapoor do what they have been doing in all their films, that is be themselves. Aleksandr Dyachenko is better off not mentioned. Irrfan Khan is the only one to make a mark, seen making an effort. The two actors who impresses, but are not given due billing are: Harish Khanna as the butler cum handyman and Shahsi Kumar Malviya as Gunga, besides Usha Uthup (a surprisingly pleasant casting).

Sadly, 7 Khoon Maaf does not even fit into a particular genre of films; the paying public and box office is not so forgiving of the mundane.

                Kachcha Limboo: A muddle which has all the negatives  

Producer: Sahara Motion Pictures.
Director: Sagar Bellary.
Cast: Vinay Pathak, Sarika, Rukhsar, Atul Kulkarni, Taheer Sutarwala

Kachcha  Limboo refers to an old slang for a kid who belongs nowhere, especially in local games kids play.

Taher Suttarwala is either hated or disliked uniformly across the line; his fellow school students as well as other school students alike dislike him.

For what, only the writer/director knows. Yes, he is a bit brash, selfish but those who don’t like him don’t know any of that! He is a character totally indulged by his step father to earn his attention but disregarded by others. This boy is a totally negative character, in all respects, looks as well as deeds. He tends to get into trouble all the time.

With such a character as your protagonist/hero, whatever you may call him, where would a film lead? Exactly where Kachcha Limboo does, nowhere!

Kachcha Limboo is a muddle which has all negatives. Who does this film cater to; Children, Parents? You don’t care after an hour into the film.

Poor in script, poorer in narration and directionless, Kachcha Limboo, coming from the maker of Bheja Fry, should have been named so for it really fries your bheja no end!!

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