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1 Star. Vaada (Promise). Directed by Satish Kaushik. With Arjun Rampal, Zayed Khan, Amisha Patel, Rajesh Vivek. At Nu Metro, Canal Walk.

I ended my Bollywood viewing last year on a disappointing note, so I suppose it’s only to be expected that I should start 2005 in the same vein. The rest of the year does hold lots of promise though, but the less said about this mismash of a disaster the better.

As with the last film I saw in 2004, we have an experienced director who can’t make up his mind about the content of his film. Is it a murder mystery, a love story or a bit of both? Well I suppose the latter would be the most apt description. The convoluted story revolves around the relationship between the scheming Rahul (Arjun Rampal), his wife Pooja (Amisha Patel) and her seriously deranged ex-lover Karan (Zayed Khan).

Rahul is blinded in a car accident and shortly afterwards meets Karan on an overseas trip, not knowing that he was Pooja’s ex-lover. When Karan sees Pooja again his feelings for her overcome him and he tries to resurrect the relationship. She refuses his advances, but Rahul sees them together and thinks that his wife is being unfaithful. Pooja ends up dead and the prime suspects are Rahul and Karan. That in a nutshell is what the movie is about.

Satish Kaushik is a mediocre director at best and he is all at sea with his latest venture. Rumi Jaffrey’s weak screenplay doesn’t help much, neither does the hit and miss cinematography by Johney Lal. His location photography in France and Singapore are picture postcard perfect, but his studio work leaves a lot to be desired with many shots out of focus. The music by Himesh Reshamiyya, normally a competent composer, is extremely disappointing.

A far as the performances go, Rampal comes out best as Rahul. Patel doesn’t have much to do, which is a good thing as she can’t do much anyway and Zayed follows up a good performance in the blockbuster Main Hoon Naa with a shocker in this one. He seems to have been inspired by his co-star in his earlier film, Shahrukh Khan, as his performance appears to have been inspired by Shahrukh’s crazed lover in the hit film Darr. Except that Zayed hams it up completely.

Ultimately, this was probably one of those occassions when everything just went horribly wrong.

Thankfully, the film clocks in at just about two hours, a rare feat for a Bollywood movie. But, it’s still two hours best spent doing something else. My advice; wait for a better Bollywood movie to come your way. There are some top titles lined up for release in the coming months. Many of which are going to be infinitely better than this one and that’s a promise.



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    Mehboob Bawa is an actor, producer, writer, voice artiste and Bollywood specialist. He covers the Bollywood scene for The Cape Times, the morning daily newspaper in Cape Town, South Africa.

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