Critic's Rating: 17/5
Monday 3 December 2001
Arjun Rampal, Manisha Koirala
The much-delayed debut of ace cinematographer Ashok Mehta as a director with Moksha has finally seen release. The film has recently won two National awards -Best Cinematography and Best Audiography, which has conveniently been played up by the director in case you find your interest flagging. In the 4 years of its making the film budget has crossed 7.5 crores. See it and you wonder why?
Mehta?s `moody? venture centres around Vikram Sehgal (Arjun Rampal), a law student. A student with distinction, he gets disillusioned with the world of law when he?s assisting a senior lawyer (Kiran Kumar). He gives up his practice. Vikram finds himself alone. His father (Suresh Oberoi), a racehorse owner cannot understand his son?s interest in meting justice to the underprivileged. Vikram?s mentor is a dean (Naseeruddin Shah) with whom he shares his dreams. And then there is his soulmate Ritika (Manisha Koirala) who not only is his object of affection, she also faces the brunt of his frustrations. She tries to understand him, and support him in his venture. One of his ventures is ?Nyay Darshan? for which he needs money. The lovebirds make a pact that if one of them backtracks then they?ll be punished with death. In the meantime Vikram tries in vain to get capital for his project, but finds none. He hits upon the idea of bank-robbery, but Ritika tries to stop him from going ahead with his plan. And the day he tries to rob the bank, a woman makes a call at the bank warning them of a plan to rob the bank. When Vikram hears that, he feels that Ritika has betrayed him. He executes the pact that he and Ritika had made about death being the punishment if any one of them backtracked from the plan. When he?s taken to court for the murder of Ritika, he represents himself. And while defending himself he tries every trick in the law book to extricate himself from the murder and prove himself innocent. He does everything that he abhored of the establishment. And when he?s proven innocent, Vikram learns that Ritika did not inform the bank about his plan to rob the bank. Shattered, he tries everything to undo the wrong he did to Ritika, but finds solace in nothing. Not even in attempting suicide. Finally he executes the bank robbery plan that he had masterminded, only to find death. In death he is reunited to his wronged beloved, Ritika who?s his only reality, his salvation, his moksh.
As a film, Moksha can be described as a `good looking film? with its stunning visuals and cinematography. Otherwise it?s too moody for the audience to relate to it on an entertainment level. Mehta has used the medium of black and white to convey the `present? mindset of the hero, which is gray, sombre, the past is seen in colour. With a hint of passion and betrayal thrown in the film, Moksha steers clear from getting to be a monologue of the hero, those are the only signs of some form of external activities taking place. The songs by Rajesh Roshan is sweet, out of which Seep se moti is quite touching, Bhanwra jo gungunaiye is cute, while Jaan leva holds mass-appeal, but they just appear without any reason.
The film has an array of outstanding actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Paresh Rawal, Danny Denzongpa, the late Mohan Gokhale (hislast appearance) just flitting in and out of the film. Manisha Koirala has nothing much to do. The film purely rests on the shoulder of Arjun Rampal, and he does an outstanding job of it. It?s clear that Mehta?s muse is Arjun Rampal, and pays tribute to the hero as a model, caressing the hero in all shades and frames, as well as giving him a platform to perform. Enough has been said about this actor, the film asserts one viewpoint that Arjun is really promising. And to think Moksha was his first film. It only shows that he has been GOOD right from the beginning.