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Film Review
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Producer: Manmohan Shetty
Director : Govind Nihalani
*ing:
Ajay Devgan, Tabu
Music:
A.R. Rahman

Released on : December 03, 1999


Reviewed by: Anish Khanna
anish@indolink.com


out of 
After dabbling for years in the unecessarily segregated world of Hindi art cinema, Director Govind Nihalani tries his hand at a more commercial subject with "Thakshak". Oddly enough, his foray into the popular side of Bollywood is with a relatively violent film. And it is more than apparent that times that he lacks conviction with the subject he is presenting - never really gripping or moving the audience at any point in the two plus hours. It takes Nihalani that much time to say - well - not a whole lot. Nonetheless, Mr. Nihalani is able to add the right sensitive touch and intelligence present in the majority of his previous ventures. "Thakshak" can be compared to a "Satya" - though we see it through a completely different director's vision. I am not claiming that it is as brilliant a film as "Satya", but the similar themes merit a mention here.

The story revolves around Ishaan (Ajay Devgan), whose father (Amrish Puri) is bound by family vow to play right-hand man to Sunny's (Rahul Bose) mafia father. Tradition holds that Ishaan must now do the same for Sunny. The problem arises, however, when Ishaan meets Suman (Tabu), who is able through her sensitivity and depth to convince Ishaan that what he does is just plain wrong. She makes Ishaan question who he is and thus want to leave the mafia life, but the deranged Sunny will have none of it. That, in a nutshell, is the plot.

The highlight of the film - and what Govind Nihalani always seems to excel at - is cinematography. Mr. Nihalani is not a great story-teller, but his strength lies in images. He is able to take a relatively average-looking heroine (Tabu) and present her as ethereal with his brilliant sense of photography. Witness the song "Khamosh Raat" alone and you will know what I mean. The shots of Ajay Devgan singing interspersed with images of Tabu's face are simple yet stunning. Even the action sequences throughout the film are shot in a very unexpectedly slick manner.

The script falters. Although the dialogue is brilliant, the story never seems to move forward. Or maybe it does, but it still doesn't take the audience on any kind of a journey. There are several extraordinary scenes - most featuring conversations between Suman and Ishaan or Sunny and Ishaan - but without adequate flow, we as the audience don't care about the characters as much as I would like to believe we should. And the randomly scattered songs don't help the disjointedness of the film.

Performances from all sides here are first rate. Ajay Devgan is playing his usual angry/confused young man, but he does it too well for me to complain. The versatile Rahul Bose (formerly of "English August" and "Bombay Boys") makes an impressive mainstream debut and possesses the perfect unconventional (almost eerie) look for the part. He will do very well if he chooses to go the Nana Patekar route. Tabu is Tabu - intense when she speaks; just as intense when she is silently breaking down on a street sidewalk. She looks gorgeous throughout the film. Where she really surprises here, however, is with her dancing abilities. She executes the bharat natyam sequence very well. And in "Rang De" - Tabu hints at the fact that she might just be in the league with Sridevi and Madhuri (It is a TERRIFIC number that just comes off very, very well!). Newcomer Nethra Raghuraman does not have a whole lot to do other than show some skin. She lacks charm and personality, but has one golden performance moment in her final scene.

I am disappointed with Govind Nihalani. He seems to have the right tools to make a good commercial project, but his self-confidence level feels low; - very low. He needs to find a subject that he believes in - similar to what happened with a film like "Ardh Satya". Only then will he be able to come up with a more inspiring film.

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