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Kabhi Na Kabhi

Cast: Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Pooja Bhatt
Director: Priyadarshan

When you see the names of all lead and support actors in one title screen, you believe that the moviemakers had little time for credits. Then you see a screen each for the technical/support persons, and even his/her assistants. You also observe, if you do keenly, a number of typos. The disparity of credit importance to the on-screen and off-screen artists is a true indicator of what to expect from KABHI NA KABHI.

When a movie has been in the making for four years, it often shows. And you can see it most in its visual appearance of the film itself, and those of the key performance. With KABHI NA KABHI, neither is the case. What you see is sheer technical brilliance, and a sincere drive for innovation and novelty. The sad part is, these positives are only illustrative of the presentation and style in the movie, and the substance or essence of the movie is a far cry from those positives. Getting to what KABHI NA KABHI is - we have a series of plots and subplots that by themselves could make a movie.

Raja (Anil Kapoor) and Jaggu (Jackie Shroff) love Tina (Pooja Bhatt), she loves Anil, and considers Jackie a great friend. That sure is familiar territory. Add a comic negative role Chhabile (Tinnu Anand) with an eye for her, who helps plot one hero against the other. Thats not very novel. Anil and Jackie are contract hitmen for villain Kachra Seth (Paresh Rawal) pitted against each other by the villian when they can make things difficult for him by joining hands. If you thought drugs smuggling was gone with the 1980s, you have a reminder here. The heroes have difficult personal lives, driving them to crime - and you thought Amitabh had beaten the angry young man to death (maybe thats why he loves to die in each of his movies even when not so young as our heroes of Kabhi Na Kabhi). This movie has every cliche that Hindi Masala cinema has perhaps conjured. A sick mother dying in the hospital as hero smuggles to make money for treatment. His sister is rumored to have committed suicide. He goes gunning for revenge.

The common love of the heroes can be damsel in distress in the villains den. If it is triangle, one hero must die saving the life of the other. They must fight for no reason on the roads for the heroine to intervene and be reason for their friendship and a new reason for rivalry.

Javed Akhtar has two decades of script writing experience in the 70s and 80s; and he seems stuck in a time warp. In true masala fashion, he blends every concoction that he would have conjured in his heydays when the theme nowadays is stylish presentation of simple straight themes. His work with the dialogues also seem dated, unlike his lyrics which are very meaningful as he has been in the last many years. But then we have the style of today (or should I say tomorrow) shining in this movie.

Ravi K. Chandran with his camera continues to be brilliant for director Priyadarshan (Virasat and Saat Rang Ke Sapne). It would be criminal to review Kabhi Na Kabhi without mentioning that Hindi cinema has perhaps not seen as much lighting brilliance, vivid colors, and obscure camera angles as in this movie. And this isn't a documentary narrative in great outdoors. It is a grim narrative in the dark underworlds.

The music by A R Rahman has been heard for long now. Complete justice is done while bringing them to screen by a bevy of dancers and choreographers. Especially "Tum Ho Meri Nigahon Mein" is a classic. And "Mil Gayee" is an experiment of extremes. You would be amazed by the wierdness that could be in capturing love on screen.

Among the performers, Paresh Rawal portrays a brilliant caricature - but does it a little too much. Maybe its not his fault, but the editors. The heroes are competent but show no spark that shines. The same applies for the heroine, except that her screen appearance is a far cry from the glamor needs of the role.

Despite all these negatives, and the dominant stylistic narrative over-riding the script - Kabhi Na Kabhi still has its moments, perhaps due to that style, or the competence of the key performers. The director fails to grip the attention of the viewer for much of the first hour, but gets your attention as the movie progresses and the script tightens. If you have the patience to last the meandering first half, the movie may be well worth watching.


Copyrightę1998 Chawla Arts and Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.