Based on the 7 paged Ruskin Bond Story ‘Susanna’s Seven Husbands’ the Vishal Bharadwaj movie ‘Saath khoon Maaf’ is suited best for people who like dark, brooding cinema. Tighter editing would have lightened up the proceedings further. Also please remember, you have to be very careful and attentive while watching this film. “This time I am going to drink his blood” Priyanka Chopra declares. When you see the movie, you will know that she means the blood of Jesus Christ..
Susanna (Priyanka Chopra) is unlucky in love, her first husband Major Edwin (Neil Nitin Mukesh) is an overtly possessive character. In her 20s, she has a tough time dealing with this man who keeps track of her every move. There is an adolescent boy in the house, Arun (childhood character for Vivaan Shah) who does menial jobs around the house. Susanna takes a liking to the boy and ensures that he gets good education. As the boy grow up, he starts falling in love with this woman and sees her shifting from one husband to the other. Susanna bumps her first husband off because she’s had it enough with his overtly possessive nature and abusive behavior with everyone in the house, including.
After his death, Susanna marries the choir singer at the funeral, who incidentally is a rockstar. Jimmy(John Abraham) is famous but fame he gains, through plagiarized music and makes quite a name for himself. But, he gets involved in drugs and girls, so much that he begins to lose his identity. Susanna tries her best to have him treated but to no avail. Finally, he dies of drug overdose, or is rather ,given an overdose..
The third husband is Wasiullah aka Musafir (Irrfan Khan), Susanna marries him as she falls in love with his romantic charm and love for poetry. But, to her disgust and anger; she finds that he has a violent sexual fetish, raping her and injuring her severely while making love. He too meets his end and the fourth man to enter Priyanka’s life in her late 30s is the suave Nicolas (Aleksandr Dyachenko) from Moscow. This marriage too does not long as Susanna discovers that this Russian spy has wife and kids. Susanna has him eliminated.
The death of the Russian national has the police interested; and the officer investigating the case is Keemat Lal (Annu Kapoor). Sexually confident of herself, Susanna has a sexual rendezvous wit Keemat Lal to keep him quiet and distracted from the case, but it so happens that Keemat Lal begins to fall in love with Susanna. Smitten by her, he decides to marry her but during one of their intimate bouts, he dies due to cardiac arrest. But we all know that there lies some other reason for his death.
Well in her sixties, Susanna exposes her nude self (bare back scene) to Arun, but he is in love with her and since he is now going to get married to a girl, he detests her advances. Feeling ignored and lost in life, she decides to commit suicide. But Dr. Modhusudhon Tarafdar (Naseeruddin Shah, a doctor saves her life and feeds her mushroom diet. It doesn’t take long for Susanna to figure out that he wants to kill her but before he does this, she shoots him and ends his chapter as well.
Arun, still in love with Susanna, may have led his forensic team to believe she is dead but he finds her; and is wiling to marry her. However, by now Susanna has found someone who knows everything about her and is wiling to marry her and take her in his life. If you read this review of Saath Khoon Maaf again, you will know how he is.
Plus points of Saath Khoon Maaf
1. Vishal Bharadwaj’s creative streak is evident specially in some of the scenes where he holds the viewer attention brilliantly to such an extent that you would ignore a call that is coming and focus on the movie instead. For instance, in one scene, you see funeral transforming into the marriage in a split second and in other episode, marriage changing into funeral
2. The deaths marshaled by Priyanka and her faithful staff are not a frightful experience, it is more in the fun mould.
3. The narrative never gets heavy like it would in other Vishal Bharadwaj movies; this one is relatively slicker and captivating compared to his other film. The pace of the movie is thankfully quicker and quirkier compared to his past films
4. Though Priyanka Chopra’s character marries and remarries at the drop of a hat, you don’t really feel pangs of animosity or resentment at her character. By amplifying the negative parts of the male characters, Vishal gives reasons enough for us to empathize with her; instead and forgive her killings as the reasons appear convincing.
Minus points of Saath Khoon Maaf
1. Before the interval, the male characters, the performances and the situations are brilliantly woven but the film begins to slide downhill after the second-half. The last three parts of the story, involving the Russian spy, the Indian police officer and the doctor are ‘thanda’ in front of the first half.
2. As a writer, the film does have loopholes. For instance, the death of the Russian spy is hush-hushed and we don’t find much of an investigation happening here. Is it so easy to murder someone and move on? The law seems to be a silent spectator despite so many murders that have been happening.
3. Saath Khoon Maaf falters in the music department. Considering Vishal gives high quality music in his productions, barring ‘Darling’, no other song stands out.
4. Arun (Vivaan Shah)’s character is not layered properly. It would have been better if there were Malena-like situations showing his sexually-layered youthful pinings for Susanna. But the director plays safe here; it is an adult film and he could have dwelled on this angle as well.
5. John Abraham looks silly as a rock-star but he makes it up with a rather convincing performance as a drug-addict.
Performances in Saath Khoon Maaf:
Let’s stand up and give a thunderous applause to Priyanka Chopra who has given her career-best performance in Saath khoon Maaf. One of the most hardworking actresses of our generation, Priyanka had been shooting the film during the days she would host Khatron Ke Khiladi Season 3. She looks voluptuous in the film, which is a delight for sure. We cannot help but marvel at the way, she has played every age from 21 to 65 very well. An inhibition-free, dedicated approach; only the confident Priyanka Chopra could have done this so well.
From the male-cast, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Annu Kapoor impress the most. Neil gets the longest of roles among the men, and he slips into the role of a possessive lover like a glove. Annu Kapoor as the policeman is superb; he is wonderfully effortless. Irrfan Khan in a restrained mould, does a brilliant job. The rest Aleksandr, debutant Vivaan Shah and dad Naseer(in a rather small role) are okay. The acting DNA running strong in his veins, Vivaan hardly seems like a debutant. Konkona Sen Sharma, Usha Uthup and the two male helps are good.
Conclusion: Saath Khoon Maaf is not the kind of film that will seduce the box office. It will have diverse opinions and will find its resonance in the critics and film festivals. Having said that this is a good film but one wishes that this adult film was not given a child-like treatment.
By Arunraj V.S.
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