Friday, September 02, 2005
The knowledge of a dead son. The engulfing lonliness. A powerful adversary. The corrupt system.
These are few of the things that the elderly couple in Mahesh Manjarekar's 'Viruddh' have to fight against. The film tells the tale of a couple who's son is accidentally killed by a powerful politician's son. The departed soul is branded a drug peddlar with the help of the corrupt police. The parents are devasted but vow to fight the system for justice. Amitabh Bachchan and Sharmila Tagore essay the roles of the parents and what a fantanstic job they do! The comfort level the two achieved in their previous fims (Chupke Chupke, Faraar & Desh Premee) continues to be visible here as well. The two of them are absolutely brilliant. John Abraham plays the son and does a decent job. Amitabh Dayal, an actor with much potential, who was last seen in N Chandra's explosive 'Kagaar' plays the son's killer but doesn't get much scope.
The movie's obvious strengths are the lead pair, the lack of distracting songs and the first half. Sanjay Dutt, who has a 'dynamic' appearence in the film is also a pleasure to watch. However, the weaknesses are in plenty as well. The movie is clearly divided into two halves, the first where the director etches out the characters'. The days in the lives of the couple are wonderfully potrayed and are very enjoyable. The simple family conversations, the little idiosyncracies of the aged etc. are a delight to watch. The second half is, however, a bit of a let down. The film switches track from 'lifestyles of the elderly middleclass' to 'fight the system for revenge' all too suddenly and hence lacks continuity. Not much is shown in terms of the battle against the corrupt officers and politicians. In that regard, 'Dhoop' was a much superior film. Also the 'parents dealing with the death of their only son' angle could have been explored further (perhaps the director could have taken a leaf out of 'Saraansh'). Hence the hitherto smooth flow is suddenly hampered by a haphazard twin track. Another annoying element in this film is the blatant product placement. Nerolac, Western Union Money Transfer and a motor oil co. I can't seem to remember now all get screen time buttressed with taglines and ad jingles. The ending again is an oft repeated formulaic one. Nothing new there. Manjarekar's direction is good but this film will not rank in the league of his 'Vaastav' or 'Astitva'.
But it is an honest attempt at a genre that hasn't been a favourite with the audiences. Give it a go.