Saturday, October 07, 2006

Woh Lamhe

Woh Lamhe

Starring Shiney Ahuja, Kangana
Directed by Mohit Suri
Rating: ***

Woe lamhe….wow lamhe! Bitter moments, ecstatic moments, gut-wrenching trauma and heart-breaking ecstacy …these are feelings that define the moments between the director and his muse in this accomplished take on man woman and guile.

Welcome to Mahesh Bhatt's world of dark desperate shadows where the fragile are broken and the sensitive damaged beyond repair.

Ripping chapter after chapter out of Parveen Babi's lacerated life, director Mohit Suri has created a pastiche of pain that lingers in the mind.

Love always hurts in Mahesh Bhatt's vision of life. WohLamhe shows love at its painful best. Moving away from the glitzy make-believe world of films, media and other fable-manufacturers the director Aditya (Shiney Ahuja) rescues the 'trapped' actress Sana (Kangana Ranaut) from a life of dungeon-like professionalism.

The trapped actresss and the knight in a shining armour is nothing new to Hindi cinema. We've seen the pair in films like Sone Ki Chidiya, Tere Mere Sapne and Mast.

What gives Bhatt's brackish fable that cutting edge is the sense of reality as experienced from eyes that are gradually losing focus.

The director-actresss love story is so devastatingly workable because of the ball-and-socket impact created by the two principal performers.

It isn't easy to portray a character who must stand by a woman he loves even if she's losing her mind. Shiny Ahuja plays the director like a a therapist who can see his heroine's tortured soul through the lens of his camera. He brings a clenched anguish to his character.

But it's Kangana who makes the story of the tormented actress cross the brorders of brilliancy. Unlike other leading ladies playing women beyond the brink (notably Smita Patil in Mahesh Bhatt's Arth) Kangana keeps a tight control over overt articulations of expressions, so that when the outbursts happen they've a whiplash effect on the audience.

A hugely expressive actress with a phemomenal ability to convey torment hurt and incredulity through the eyes, Kangana is the first female performer of Bollywood since Smita and Shabana who isn't scared to strip her soul naked for the camera.

Not surprisingly she's far more effective expressing the vulnerable state of her character's mind in the privacy of her beloved's bedroom rather than 'playing' the superstar at filmy parties with her caddish boyfriend-cum-secretary (Shaad Randhawa) egging her on to grin for the cameras.

In a way the partial discomfort in Kangana's personality aids the film's theme. Showbiz isn's for the soft at heart. And this isn't a film for those who believe all love stories are about roses. Often a relationship is based on thorns rather than flowers.

Watch Shiney pluck those thorns out of Kangana's soul as her silent screams fill the soundtrack with images of unspoken nightmares.

You wish some of the supporting characters were less stereotypical….the heroine's brutish boyfriend, the hero's jovial sidekick, the actress' uncaring mother and sundry fringe people don't add any vigour or even a dash of vinegar to the meal.

That again is a blessing in disguise. We get to see Kangana's ability to exteriorize the demons within her character, in a no-frill flight into panic. 


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