Review: Via Darjeeling

Review: Via Darjeeling

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Monday 30 June 2008

Movie Title

Review: Via Darjeeling


Arindam Nandy

Star Cast

Kay Kay Menon, Sonali Kulkarni, Rajat Kapoor, Simone Singh, Vinay Pathak

A much-in-love honeymooning twosome, Ankur and Rimli (Kay Kay Menon, Sonali Kulkarni), is staying at a resort in Kalimpong, near Darjeeling. When not making cheesy, romantic talk, they saunter off sightseeing. While packing on their last day, Ankur suddenly leaves the hotel room and doesn?t come back. An exasperated Rimli calls the local police station and a cop Robin Bose (Vinay Pathak) comes over for questioning.

Jarring in his curtness, Bose asks Rimli some uncomfortable questions. She mentions two out-of-the-ordinary instances?one of a driver who fought with Ankur the previous morning, and a strange man who had been following her for a few days. While speaking to Bose, she sees Ankur?s shadow enter the hotel through the backdoor, but the cop and the hotel manager can see no one. The cop suspects her imagination is on overdrive and wonders if she?s mentally stable.

Before you, the viewer, can begin probing any further, you?re yanked to the drawing room of an editor and his friends, discussing the story with the cop. They?re all buddies, and as Bose puts the nth cigarette in his mouth without lighting it (it?s his quirk, we?re told), they?re all keen to hear more. But the cop has nothing more to say except that Ankur was never found and Rimli returned to her father in Kolkata.

From then on, each of the friends prods the other to tell their version of what could have really transpired. It?s right on your part to expect the writing to really take off at this stage and give us some unique, entertaining perspectives. That?s where the film falls flat, like soda that?s been aired.

The concept reminds one of the works of most film students, so heavily impressed by their own ideas and influenced by masters, in this case Akira Kurusawa?s Roshomon. But the basic premise, which has promise, finds no fruition. Consider some of the alternative theories: One friend feels Rimli concocted the story of the strange man following her. She was in love with a man called Bonny (Parveen Dabbas) and she was provoking him to kill her husband. Another version has Bonny threatening Rimli he was going to kill Ankur, much against her wishes. While another version has Rimli pregnant and fearful to confess to Ankur about her affair. But Ankur, though pretending not to know anything, has figured out there?s something between his wife and the strange man. In this version Rimli, in fact, is in love with Ankur, but he refuses to believe her. Another account has Ankur liase with Bonny to murder Rimli for her father?s money.

And thus the film continues, the intermission happens, and the friends, more drunk now, still continue playing the guessing game. But you have lost interest. The ending is abrupt?an open ending to a thriller really isn?t the way to go. Via Darjeeling is a tease at best, and an unfair one, because it lead us only to disappoint.

Technically, the film is alright. Kay Kay Menon is good as always, but disarmingly uncomfortable in the mushy scenes. Sonali Kulkarni is dependably good, but her dubbing is below par. Especially effective is Vinay Pathak, who, by now, has perfected the dry, sarcastic cop act. The cast playing the ?friends? is strong (Rajat Kapoor, Simone Singh, Sandhya Mridul, Prashant Narayanan) and gives good performances. Parvin Dabbas is alright, though handicapped by his ambiguous role. Music by Prabhudda Banerjee is a welcome addition.

To call this film a psychological thriller is a folly, but it?s been promoted as such. Eventually then, Via Darjeeling is a victim of its own build-up.

Rating: One and a half stars

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