Aatma: A marital spat of the supernatural kind

MUMBAI: Aatma is about a wandering soul-usually called a ghost. To make a scary film, that aatma needs to be evil. This is the cheapest genre to make and then hope it works. Somehow, an odd one works and that too within a limited range. But horror, ghosts and the supernatural are not the Indian moviegoers‘ idea of entertainment. Especially not when the premise is corny and costs as much as a regular super-entertainer.

Bipasha Basu has got into an arranged marriage with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, a temperamental man always suspicious of his wife‘s character. Soon after marriage, he turns into the devil incarnate, abusing, torturing and hitting his wife while doubting her loyalty. When one day he almost kills his wife in a frenzy of jealousy, she decides she has had enough and seeks a divorce. It is granted instantly and she gets custody of the daughter their marriage has produced. Siddiqui is livid and drives his car to his death.

Siddqui, with a sort of dual personality, tortured his wife and was overtly possessive and protective about his daughter, Doyel Dhawan. He would not leave this world without her and, hence, comes back to claim her, whatever it costs and whosoever has to die in the process (especially Basu since she is the main impediment in his way). It looks like he does not want Basu to have the privilege of their daughter‘s love and hence all his attacks are aimed at Basu. He always wanted his daughter to only love him and not her mother taking, ‘Baby, who do you love more, Mummy or Papa‘ to the extreme!

Siddqui traumatizes Basu and her family. He becomes omnipresent wherever Doyel is, be it home or school, and converses with her all the time. When a classmate harasses Doyel, he is found dead at the bottom of a staircase. When a teacher scolds her she is found dead in the washroom. While his killing spree and terrorising continue, Basu resorts to a swami‘s help, getting a tawiz to tie around Doyel‘s arm. Along with Basu‘s sister-in-law, the swami is Siddiqui‘s next victim.

Basu then remembers what the swami had said: ‘No living being can destroy Siddiqui‘s aatma‘. So she decides to kill herself to protect Doyel. That is the time for the film‘s funny climax. As Siddiqui takes Doyel across a railway track to get her killed, Basu‘s aatma appears and both aatmas engage in hand-to-hand combat! But then Basu is armed with the tawiz the swami gave her.

The law of averages had to catch up with Siddiqui after his series of applauded performances in various films. Aatma is the one that breaks his spell. It is a bad choice on his part. Basu, even when trying her best, can‘t do much with this unsalvageable film. Doyel is good. There is not much to be said about the film. 

Rangrezz: A bunch of friends on do-good trip

Rangrezz is the remake of a Tamil film, Naadodigal, which was later made in Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. The film brings together director Priyadarshan and cinematographer Santosh Sivan after a gap of one and half decade. The film is one more of Vashu Bhagnani‘s vehicles for his son, Jackky Bhagnani, to cement his place as a lead actor in films.

The movie is about a bunch of middle-class friends who have grown up together, had good and bad times together and are utterly loyal to each others‘ cause. Bhagnani, aspiring to be a police officer, is the decision maker and the conscience of this group of friends that hails from various castes and communities in Mumbai. One of them, Raghav Chanana, has fallen in love with, Akshara Gowda, the daughter of a powerful UP industrialist, Pankaj Tripathi, who lives in a fortress-like house in the UP town of Lalitpur.

Bhagnani and the bunch of friends embark on the task of getting Gowda and Chanana married but first they have to draw the girl out and away from the gaze of her father, Tripathi, and his gun totting guards. The fact that Tripathi and Chanana‘s mother, a failed politician, are daggers drawn only adds to their problem. They arrive in Lalitpur and pile on to Rajpal Yadav, a waiter at a local restaurant. He knows the locals and his way around town.

Bhagnani, the go-getter that he is, ventures on a risky recce on Tripathi and his home. The opportunity arrives when Gowda is on a visit to a crowded temple along with her father and his gunmen. The girl is taken into confidence and later kidnapped. While one of the friends loses his leg in the process, another loses his hearing having been hit with a pole. But after all, friendship is all about sacrifice.

So far so good, as the first half gets over. It is then that the film loses direction and momentum. While the now-married lovers are dispatched to Goa for hiding, the friends are back to their routine way in Mumbai. There are side stories of Bhagnani‘s house being attacked by Tripathi‘s goons and another love story between his sister, Sakhi Gokhale, and best friend, Amitosh Nagpal. But with Bhagnani around, the issues are easily settled, no matter that his own romance with Megha Joshi is sacrificed.

In Mumbai, the friends find a new cause. They not only help salvage a friend‘s father‘s snack shop but they turn into a thriving enterprise! But the lovers for whom they took all the trouble at risk of life and limb are not in love any more. Gowda and Chanana have fallen out. Bhagnani and friends do their last good deed by taking both to a deserted place and leaving them to sort out their problems. But before that, Bhagnani delivers a lecture on relationships, a must in South films. For the happy ending, Bhagnani finally qualifies to be a policeman.

The problem with Rangrezz is that it has no running story; it is more a chain of events in the lives of a bunch of friends. That is why it goes haywire in its second half. The hero‘s love life has been compromised in the cause of making him a compulsive do-gooder. Direction is patchy. Photography is good with some nice locations to exploit. Musically, Dil ko aya sukoon… is good while Be rangrezz… has some youth appeal. Performance wise, Bhagnani is okay except when delivering a lecture at the end. Of the rest, Nagpal is restrained and Vijay Verma and Rati Chaturvedi make a mark. Tripathi gives a seasoned performance while Yadav is fun as usual.

Sona Spa: A dreamy concept

Sona Spa is one man‘s idea of a concept, that one man being the theatre-actor Makarand Deshpande. One may call it an abstract theme because it does not identify with common ideas or beliefs. The film is based on the premise that for insomniacs, there is a cure: others can sleep on their behalf and the insomniacs would feel as rested as if they slept all night. All the insomniacs in the film are men and all those doing sleeping on their behalf are women. Why women? If one figured that out, one would also figure out the rest of the film.

There is a spa called Sona Spa ("Sona", Hindi for sleep, is written in Devnagari in the title). The spa is the brainchild of a baba, played by Naseeruddin Shah, from a TV screen. The spa provides some young and some not-so-young women willing to sleep on behalf of the spa‘s sleepless clients, who pay Rs 2000 or so per hour of delegated sleep. The idea is to serve those chasing money, fame and glamour and sacrificing their sleep in the bargain.

But when one delegates his sleep to these girls, who are called sleep workers, one also delegates his dreams. The girls who sleep on a client‘s behalf, also sees his dreams. Baba believes that it is good idea to commit your crimes in dreams else you will end up doing that when awake.

Two girls join the spa as sleep workers. Aahana Kumrah joins because she wants to sleep on behalf of her sister who is sleepless and nurses suicidal tendencies. Shruti Vyas because her rich father can‘t sleep and spends nights at dance bars throwing money on bar dancers. There is a third girl, Nivedita Bhattacharya, an ex-prostitute, who has a clear conscience and speaks her mind. She is in the business as an escape from her past as well to make money. Since Baba never emerges from his TV screen, the spa is managed by Pooja Pradhan who initiates the new girls into their job.

As Vyas bonds with her client, Romi Jaispal, a filthy rich, married man with a number of women in his life his cruel intentions tumble out in his dreams. Jaspal has an unusual way of ending his relationships with his other women: he kills them. Kumrah sleeps for another client but the only dreams she gets are of her sister‘s. In a single night of sharing her sister‘s dream, she cures her sister of her sleeplessness and suicidal tendencies!

The girls lose their own dreams in the process of dreaming for others and confront their clients who finally mend their ways.

There is nothing much to this film and finding an audience will be a task bigger than making it. Of the performers, Bhattacharya is natural.

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