Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dear Abby, is my husband a murderer? Shaque.

On paper Shaque looks like a Gulzar movie; both of its stars zigzagged between mainstream and not-so-mainstream cinema (Shabana more than Vinod, though) during the golden 70's, and the film's title and subject, suspicion and what it does to a marriage, has the potential to live up to an interesting human drama of sorts.

The sad thing is, it doesn't quite reach that.

Vinod and Meena's happy marital life becomes strained after Meena receives a letter from a person claiming to have seen Vinod murder a coworker years ago. At first she refuses to believe it but there are suspicious signs - how come he needs the help of sleeping pills to rest every night? Where did he get all that money years ago, when they had a baby on the way and were struggling to find the means to survive? Meena's suspicion continues to grow and tensions in the marriage build up.

There's nothing that awfully wrong with Shaque, maybe apart from somebody getting lazy with the script writing by the end. It starts out an okay drama with a couple of standout moments, and all the actors do a good job with what they have. It's not Shabana's fault that Meena comes off as hopelessly easily lead by various people and more than a little naive. Closer to the end, you see her make conclusions that are peculiar to say the least, but overall the quality of the script plummets so bad during the same time, it's hard to blame her. The film turns into a peculiar masala thriller of sorts at the end, more ridiculous than anything.

But onto the positives; one of the reasons I had Gulzar on the brain during the first half of the film was that I saw his name on the credits as 'the lyricist'. And indeed the lyrics were often poignant and fitting to the situations of the movie. Otherwise the soundtrack was bland, and all the songs were integrated in an unconventional "they're listening to the radio" manner, which might've worked, had Shaque stayed consistently non-mainstream to the end.

And I suppose the script wasn't all bad. The intrigue of whether or not Vinod actually committed the murder is played up so that it takes a while until the viewer figures out how things really came down. A thing or two can also be said about Vinod's acting - there are times where his experience in playing villains really shows. Another plus was the way the film portrayed marriage, its bliss and eventual decay.

I of course was lucky enough to watch this in sync with Filmi Geek, which was fun especially when the film veered off to the WTF zone of unknown. I'm not sure how to recommend the film itself; it's merely alright, and has those persuasive positives (daring bed scene! Vinod on a horse! snuggly Shabana-Vinod jodi!) but also those peculiar negatives that just rather spoil the ride.

* Bonus fangirly note; 70's glasses? Always a riot. Pink shirt towards the end? I was so massively amused I cannot even picture. Manpain? Sufficient. In conclusion? Still the hottest oldie actor, yes indeed.

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