An opportunity lost for Hindi cinema

Linear narration and less than nuanced performances lets '7 Khoon Maaf' down. Music is the only highlight.

With 7 Khoon Maaf, director Vishal Bhardwaj returns for the second time to another Ruskin Bond short story Susanna’s Seven Husbands. His first was Blue Umbrella.

The film is at one level a woman’s search for love. Bhardwaj makes this journey through the mind of Susanna Anna-Marie Johannes (Priyanka Chopra) – a woman who lives the world not in black and white, but in all its accompanying shades of grey. She veers at the precipice between sanity and insanity, almost willing herself back from the edge just as she threatens to veer over.

This should have made for a promising premise in the hands of the director who created both Omkara and The Blue Umbrella. But this is not to be. Bhardwaj fails both in his interpretation of Bond’s original story and his subsequent execution.

The problem begins when this very difficult story is told in documentary fashion, with linear progression. We watch the rising and ebbing of seven different love stories, knowing in advance that each of them will fail and end in murder. The first love story becomes the recipe for all that will follow.

Missing is the element of speculation and curiosity essential to retain an audience’s interest in the film. The almost straight line progression of the compartmentalised love stories also does little to help Bhardwaj’s case. Strangely absent are the many layers to both the unusual story and the most interesting woman protagonist that Bhardwaj has given us till date.

The single saving grace to this film could have been sparkling performances from a cast that includes Priyanka Chopra, Neil Nitin John Abraham, Irrfan Khan and Naseeruddin Shah. But while the latter three make interesting cameos, this is a film that rests squarely on Priyanka’s shoulders and she does not meet the challenge. She plays to script, but does not add new dimensions to arguably the most complex character that she has ever played. For Priyanka, it is an opportunity squandered.

Equally disappointing is the portrayal of the woman as a victim in love, who loses herself in other world escapism. Contrast this with Hollywood productions like The Piano, where the woman protagonist rises above the waves enveloping her and demands for "life".

The high point of the film remains the music from Vishal Bhardwaj. It captures the essence of the film where his direction fails.

So it’s a rating of 2 stars for 7 Khoon Maaf. A woman’s heart is a complicated thing, and Bhardwaj’s most avid fans are not going to forgive him easily for treading past it very lightly.

The ratings and what they mean

The ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and try to strike that difficult balance between cinematic critique and giving the regular film buff a peek into what’s playing in town and worth a watch.

  • 1: Watch this film only if the director pays you
  • 2: You could safely give this film a miss
  • 2.5: A one-time watch
  • 3: Good cinema. Money well spent
  • 4: Great cinema. A standing ovation
  • 5: Simply speechless. A masterpiece
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Similar Story

    Domestic violence in resettlement areas: Community workers bear the burden

    Community workers, who are the first respondents to attend domestic violence cases in Chennai's resettlement areas, face innumerable challenges

    As Priya* woke up at 5:30 am, she took the final sip of her coffee and was about to begin her morning prayers when she received a call from an unknown number. A few years ago, she wouldn't have bothered to answer. But now, as a community worker in a resettlement site, calls from unfamiliar numbers have become a routine part of her daily life. A woman could be heard crying at the other end. Priya asked her to calm down and speak clearly. The woman informed her that her husband was beating her up and had locked her inside…

    Similar Story

    Addressing pet dog attacks: A balance between regulation and compassion

    Government intervention is necessary to prevent indiscriminate breeding and trade of pet dogs, and more shelters are needed for abandoned pets.

    Recently, two pet Rottweiler dogs attacked a five-year-old child and her mother in a  Corporation park in Nungambakkam, Chennai. Based on a complaint following the incident, police arrested the owners of the dog for negligence and endangering the lives of others (IPC Section 289 and 336). As General Manager-Administration of the Blue Cross of India, I have seen several Rottweilers over the years. While there are laws to address such situations, there needs to be adequate awareness among pet owners that dogs like Rottweilers should be taken for a walk only on a leash. A major portion of the responsibility…