Khoya Khoya Chand

Khoya Khoya Chand

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 17/5

Friday 7 December 2007

Movie Title

Khoya Khoya Chand


Sudhir Mishra

Star Cast

Shiny Ahuja, Soha Ali Khan, Soniya Jehan, Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak

This could well be Sudhir Mishra?s first truly mainstream film, his formal introduction to the aam audience. A well-deserved one at that, for the director has made some of the most riveting films over the past few years (Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin, Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Chameli, not Calcutta Mail). And he?s indefatigable, thank god.

Special: Shiney & Soha in Khoya Khoya Chand

Set in the `60s film industry, Khoya Khoya Chand trails the lives of a reigning actress Nikhat (Soha Ali Khan), an exploitative superstar (Rajat Kapoor) and a struggling writer-director Zaffer (Shiney Ahuja). Heard it before? Sure, it?s the classic triangle, also seen in Baz Luhrman?s Moulin Rouge. Except here, foes become friends and friends foes, without so much as a shrug. Cold, cold professionalism brings distanced lovers together as they enact a romantic scene, and sworn enemies unite over a commonly interested project. Dhanda and love are two asides not be mixed, and this world is certainly not for the faint-hearted (You?ll recognize the pun, if you see the movie. Someone in the film has a hole in the heart).

It?s Sudhir Mishra, an antithesis of his ruthlessness in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. His love here is a mix of the tender and the brutal; it?s charismatic, cunning and cruel at the same time. His understanding of romance in KKC, reminds one of Mike Nichols?s films (Who?s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Closer etc), though not as blatantly cynical. The less-than-perfect take on love, usually put on the tallest pedestal in our films, is a refreshing take. But truth always hurts, and the love between seemingly white-and-black characters that reveal their grey side, could be difficult to digest for an audience fed on a diet of syrupy romances.

A film that takes you back in time is a challenge, not as much in storytelling, but more in elements like casting, research, authenticity, sets, costumes and the like. As far as casting is concerned, it?s near perfect. Shiney sparkles in this complex and frankly confusing character of Zaffer whom you want to root for desperately, even if for Nikhat?s sake. Rajat?s arrogant and despicable Prem Kumar is adeptly portrayed by Kapoor. But the film belongs to Soha ? she?s one of the few heroines today who can carry off such a delicate look. Looking fragile, as if she were made of glass, Soha Ali Khan is exemplary as the superstar Nikhat who?s paid a huge price?that of her childhood?to get at where she is. Nikhat?s nervous, lip-biting demeanor is portrayed brilliantly by Khan, who was honestly made for this role. Her life?s unfair share of sadness doesn?t go away, but accumulates bit by bit, and makes us weep for her. It?s a gritty tale of a heroine?s survival in a male-dominated film industry, and the picture ain?t pretty. Chemistry between all characters is crackling, which is great to watch.

Thankfully, KKC is not a caricature of that era, except perhaps that strange song welcoming 1965. Technically, the film is a marvel. The research seems impeccable, and the costumes, sets, ambience are all effortlessly authentic. The sound designing is great, as are the cinematography (thought too mobile at times) and sets. Editing is masterful, and often employs the technique of not letting a scene reach its obvious conclusion, and cutting the shot just before that. Dialogue is interesting ? when the about-to-be-married Kumar talks of his lust for Nikhat, he says `Is it only me who?s like this, or is everyone the same? And everyone does wish to do what I am doing; it?s just that I can.? But sometimes the conversation cuts away too soon from a topic, and becomes more like a statement rather than a talk.

Mishra?s attempt at going mainstream is evident in many ways ? backing by Adlabs, full-on publicity in keeping with the times, known names as cast, and a slight dumbing down. For example, the character of Khosla, a beer-bellied, Punjabi producer, played by Saurabh Shukla, is extremely interesting, accurate even, but very obviously over-the-top. He?s gregarious and emotional, but chillingly business-minded, and speaks his Punjabi abuses really loudly, to add humour. It works even, and does elicit a knowing laugh and a smirk, but the effort?s too visible.

Other than that, Mishra?s mastery at extracting unbelievable performances exists, and he gets the maximum out of his already talented cast. Vinay Pathak is seen in a serious role after a long time and he does very well; as does Sushmita Mukherjee as Nikhat?s protective guardian. Sonya Jehan (she made her debut with Taj Mahal) gives a fabulous performance as the arrogant star Ratan Bala, who now faces Prem favouring Nikhat instead of her. Music, usually a huge part in Mishra?s films is appealing here, but nothing like Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin and Hazaaaron.

Mishra, in an interview, had stated that his film is about passion ? and it?s clear why. Because the word passion manifests itself in many ways throughout the film ? from lust and ambition, to dedication and revenge. But still, it doesn?t move you as much as it should. Partly because the simple story is suffocated with too many layers. The film-within-film format, while immersing, is tiresome, when we are talking of at least four films simultaneously.

Also, you don?t see why this film had to be set in the `60s in the first place; everything that the film speaks about and against is evident even today. The hollowness of love and emotions in the face of ambition, ugly exploitation in the face of glamour, are all conflicts that have stood through the decades. Was the film trying to recreate a real-life romance that took place in the industry around that time? We?ll never know. Mishra has refuted any such claims. So except for the sake of spending big bucks and making a film shining with dazzling production value, there?s really no evident point of going back.

Though being marketed as a mainstream film, Khoya Khoya Chand is still gourmet, not fast food. Decide whether you?d like to see the film as per your taste.

Verdict 2-1/2 stars out of 5

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