Cast: Karisma Kapoor, Rajneesh Duggal, Jimmy Shergill, Divya Dutta
Directed by Vikram Bhatt
Past life regression is like Reiki or market-linked mutual funds or pay hikes in journalism. You and everybody else has to believe in it wholeheartedly for it to materialize into anything. But this dangerous story that takes us through several births, a few deaths, many rented costumes and some dodgy ruins needs a little more faith and lots of laxatives to digest.
The film opens with supermodel Sanjana- trotting her high heel shoes at a Manish Malhotra show. Soon the collection is ignored to announce that she’s become the face of the year or the decade and will get to work out of Paris for year. Everyone, including Manish Malhotra goes ‘woo-hoo!’ But Sanjana’s upset to be separated from her front-row boyfriend Rohan (Rajneesh Duggal). After a few teary-eyed goodbyes, she returns to suggest that they elope in sappy drooling dialogues that won’t get your popcorn soggy. Just then, half a dozen masked men with matching leather jackets barge into Rohan’s beach house and poke guns up his nose. Relax, he’s just being kidnapped and Sanjana is just knocked out temporarily.
This is when the flashbacks begin haunting Sanjana and well, the rest of us. Suddenly from her hospital bed she reaches the Mughal era. From her living room she’s transported to 1940s’ Lahore and so on. In every janam, she’s blessed with a new version of Rohan too. In some- he has a beard, in some- he wear kohl, in some- he’s mysteriously injured but in almost all- he has one and a half facial expressions. The first being a poker face and the 0.5 one only surfaces in moments of extreme pain or delirious joy. A special prize for distinguishing between the two.
If you really care about the present janam’s Rohan, then read on. The kidnappers demand a ransom of 50 crores and the investigating officer ACP Singh (Jimmy Shergill) wants to nab them without this obnoxious sum exchanging hands. Sanjana describes the kidnapper and a rough sketch is put on paper, scanned and mailed across the world. That’s how resourceful and hi-tech our cops are. But when the kidnapper calls and has a long tedious chat with them, they don’t try to trace his location but record the call using a giant turntable-styled recorder with the tape wheeling away.
Later, to everyone’s amusement and the ACP’s annoyance, Sanjana admits that she hadn’t seen the kidnapper and the sketch was based on one of her past-life regression sessions. Despite all this, the cops manage a big lead and the ACP is on his way to follow up. Sanjana insists on tagging along when the investigator threatening enquires, “Are you a part of the problem or are you a part of the solution?” “I am a part of Rohan,” Sanjana sheepishly replies and he gives her a nod to join them. This foolish exchange of words is followed by even sillier adventures that don’t even deserve to be graced with a mention.
Sanjana jumps from one costume drama to another to explore her many previous lives. Each of them offer clues to solve her present dilemma. But each of her lives are so predictably violent and overtly dramatic that it feels like those unending period-based TV shows of the 80s that never managed primetime. One thing that’s constant in every life is the sole purpose of her being: saving private Rohan, who is equally confused and indecisive in every birth.
The film also stars many other gems. In one of Sanjana’s spectacular lives, she spots Rani-sa (Gracy Singh wrapped in a bedsheet) jiving (like she was attempting a primitive abortion technique) at a mandir. Rani-sa spends all her scenes dancing, talking like Baba Ramdev and occasionally hands over magical flowers that glow while exchanging hands. Sanajana’s best friend and doctor played by Divya Dutta also has a meaty role and makes it into a couple of janams herself without disturbing the flow or lack of flow of this epic story. Ravi Kissan’s short yet crucial role is promising, even though it could’ve been a bit less loud.
It’s easy to blame the VFX guy for not managing to raise any eyebrows or doing anything that would amplify the 3D element in the film. But with the rotten raw materials placed on the editing table, there’s only as much that one can do. Also, those who still believe that 3D means Karisma Kapoor will pop out of the screen and tweak your nose a little, need to understand the true definition of 3D. Not saying that this film justifies being even in single dimension.
The music by Himesh Reshammiya is piercing, not through the heart but through the ears. It’s the kind of stuff that auto-rickshawallahs took pride in blaring out of their ‘jhinchak’ amplifiers around a decade ago. The costume design for this period drama seems to be carelessly sourced from a dusty Halloween costume shop, while Karisma’s makeup artist seems hell-bent on emptying everything in the box by plastering just about anything, anywhere. While the shooting lights are rarely considered a game changer, here the excess of yellow makes the Rajasthani characters look like a cross between Balika Vadhu and The Simpsons.
It is upsetting to see Karisma Kapoor trying hard to do a part that she would’ve managed without twisting her ankle a decade ago. And while she manages fairly well to her credit, one has to blame her for such a terribly risky choice for a comeback. It’s also upsetting enough for Rajneesh Duggal to be born with such an emotionless face in one birth, so imagine the great depression when a menacing curse forces the same on him across births? Gracy Singh’s presence was a bit out place in this film like in any other film and Jimmy Shergill is yet to find his mould as he seems to be on Methamphetamine since his performance borders only on extremes.
The dangers of watching this tiring thriller are many. Apart from fueling existential crisis, it may finger your present (state of mind) in more ways than the past or the future can collectively repair. Still want to watch it for Karisma? I’d rather opt for Biwi No.1 or Hero No.1 or Coolie.No.1. Anyone but this one.
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