Phobia….Learn a new word! Fredrick…..Who?

Waiting…Film without an end!

Once upon a time, many filmmakers out of a film institute took films shown to them as a part of the syllabus too seriously and decided to emulate a Fellini or a Bergman or a Truffaut. Most of these aspirants made films with NFDC backing but found no exposure towards which end, the Government built a small capacity cinema just to promote such film by the name of Akashwani in South Mumbai.

What is different now is that, people with resources make such odd films which have little or nothing to do with films or entertainment as we know. Fortunately for such films, we have an oversupply of multi-screen cinemas with huge gaps to fill between two major commercial films. The last two months, for example, had no film that would provide sustenance to these screens for even the opening three days.


Waiting is one such film which boasts of Naseeruddin Shah in the lead thus proffering some expectations. But, again, the film, its story idea, is an obsession of some individual with resources.

Naseeruddin spends his days and nights at a posh Cochin hospital where his comatose wife, Suhasini Manirathnam, is lying under observation. It has been eight months and Naseeruddin has become a sort of an expert on his wife’s ailment. He expects best from the doctors at the hospital, who think his wife is beyond help. Also, Naseeruddin, a professor, is running out of money! Naseeruddin also has a thing to confess to his wife and, if for nothing else, wants her to regain consciousness for once just for him to make his confession!


This is when Kalki Koechlin enters the scene. Out on an assignment in Cochin, Kalki’s husband, Arjun Mathur, has met with a serious accident. He is in a vegetative state with no chance of survival. Both become friends, become a mutual support system, but both see a conspiracy in the hospital’s decisions.

Actually, both may be miserable and feel helpless but, somehow, both find the time and the inclination to celebrate, play music, dance and generally enjoy. All this at Naseeruddin’s house where he also confesses to transgression.

In such a film, the writers and makers usually spend days discussing the conclusion of the story but never agree on one. Here too, the conclusion is left to the viewer. In case the viewer cares by now!


Producers: Priti Gupta, Manish Mundra.

Director: Anu Menon.

Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Kalki Koechlin, Arjun Mathur, Rajat Kapoor, Suhasini Maniratnam, Rajeev Ravindranathan.


Phobia….Learn a new word!

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Renowned makers like Raj Kapoor, B R Chopra, and many others did indulge at times in films with themes way different from the mainstream entertainers they made. RK’s Jagte Raho, Boot Polish; BR’s Kanoon, Ittefaq and so on were nowhere near regular commercial films. Some worked, some did not, but, in most cases, they were a piece from life.

Phobia is a film dealing with a girl afflicted with Agoraphobia which is a fear or crowded places, open spaces or any sort of exposure. A subject not easy to identify with. In such a story, when the protagonist suffers due to her ailment, those around her as in family, friends and others reaching out to help also suffer. And, when such a case is brought to a cinema as a film, the audience suffers too.

Radhika Apte is diagnosed with Agoraphobia. She shares her house with her sister and her child. Balancing her time between her job, child and Radhika becomes an ordeal for the sister. Radhika’s friend cum silent lover, Satyadeep Mishra, volunteers to help her. He borrows a friend’s house and puts up Radhika there. Here she need not face the crowds, keep to herself and try to regain her confidence. Mishra would look her up from time to time.

Here, the agoraphobia takes the turn for the worst. There are no crowds, no one other than her whatsoever, now Radhika is scared of loneliness. It seems a girl lived there before her who has vanished without picking her bags and clothes or paying rent. She had a thing going with a neighbouring guy who, Radhika thinks, has killed her, Radhika keeps seeing her in her sleep as well as waking hours. The phobia finds an extension in horror.

On its way to tackle Radhika’s problems, Phobia creates some mildly funny situations and some subtle comedy. It is some relief considering the theme provides nothing to regale. The fun lasts for a while, as, at the end, the film resorts to gore and unnecessary violence.

What does not work, however, is Radhika’s character sketched as out rightly selfish and ingrate. Whatever the film’s length, it needs drastic trimming. The film has one good song in the beginning. It is a Radhika film all along and she puts in a commendable performance. Satyadeep does his bit with conviction. Ankur Vikal is good. The girl next door, Yashaswani, is a natural.

Producer: Viki Rajani.

Director: Pawan Kirplani.

Cast: Radhika Apte, Satyadeep Mishra, Ankur Vikal, Yashswani Dayama.





Fredrick, if simply put, is a film about childhood romance. If you really care to know and learn more, it is about a childhood romance about gay couple in their teens. The thing is that, here, a deprived lover takes recourse to violence. Does a passive gay lover become so violent if deprived? Towards this end, Fredrick, the film assumes all kinds of angles. Except for the initial few minutes till the concluding few, it sticks to being an investigative story about a drug lord cum pimp and his cabal dominating the scenic township of Mussoorie.

Avinash Dhyani is a sleuth belonging to the IB (Intelligence Bureau) married to Tulna Butalia, who is qualified but stopped short of joining the IB! Dhyani’s sister, on a trip to Mussoorie, has vanished from there. Sensing some foul play, Dhyani and Tulna decide to go to Mussoorie and follow the lead from where his sister was last seen.

The serene and beautifully snow-clad Mussourie spews red blood as a local don’s goons let loose a reign of blood and gore; run a ring of flesh trade and drugs. The ringmaster of the whole violent show is one Fredrick, played by Prashant Narayanan.

Dhyani and Tulna arrive as a honeymoon couple and soon they are approached in the same fashion as Dhyani’s sister was. They are drugged and while Dhyani is left to fend for himself, Tulna has been kidnapped.  Since the couple had come prepared for all eventualities Dhyani tracks down Tulna’s location. The game of chasing starts till Dhyani comes face to face with the dreaded don Prashant.

Prashant’s men are spread all over including in the police force. He thinks nothing of killing his distractors, so why has he not killed Dhyani so far? That has a link with Fredrick’s early youth: he sees in Dhyani the gay partner he lost in his teens.

The film takes the subject of gay relationships and blends it with crime which is not to say it is different from other such films. In fact, the flesh trade theme went out of fashion long before the 20th century began.

The direction is clichéd and, except for outdoor locales, the film bears a 1960s look with gaudy sets. Musically, the film has a fair score. Editing is weak. While Dhyani and Tulna are okay, Prashant impresses with his rich and booming voice.


Producer: Manish Kalaria.

Director: Rajesh Butalia.

Cast: Prashant Narayanan, Avinash Tyagi, Tulna Butalia.

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