7 Khoon Maaf wallpapersCast: Priyanka Chopra, John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Naseeruddin Shah, Irrfan Khan, Anu Kapoor, Vivaan Shah Director: Vishal Bhardwaj; Rating: 4 out of 5.

The story is about the beautiful Susanna (Priyanka Chopra) who, over the years, gets married almost half a dozen times. Each of her husbands dies under mysterious circumstances – from the dominating Major Rodriques (Neil Mukesh), to the doped rock-star Jimmy ( John Abraham), to the sadomasochist poet Wasiullah (Irrfan Khan), to the bigamous Russian Vronsky ( Aleksandr Dyachenko), to the exploitative inspector Keemat Lal (Annu Kapoor) to the premeditated Dr Tarafdar (Naseeruddin Shah).

Arun (Vivaan Shah), who had a childhood crush on Susanna and, more or less, has been a part of almost all these stories, narrates each episode to his wife (Konkona Sen Sharma) as the story unfolds to the viewer.

Post a quick and deceptive prologue, Vishal Bhardwaj unveils each marital episode of Susanna through simple and straightforward storytelling. With seven weddings and as many funerals in the offing, the screenplay written by Bhardwaj and Matthew Robbins enters late in each episode and keeps them short and succinct. The chemistry between Susanna and her partners which leads to their subsequent marriage, is cut short throughout, since almost every chapter starts with Susanna being already married or Susanna tying the knot early in the episode. But then the film, essentially, is not about how Susanna gets married several times but, more importantly, about how each of her marriage ends. Also the animosity in each track is as quickly established as their implied chemistry.

Priyanka ChopraNone of the husbands are supported by any background accounts and you never feel the need either. Each of them is instantly introduced in the narrative and only to the extent that’s essential to the plot. Through each episode, Bhardwaj attempts to touch diverse human emotions from envy, addiction, obsession, faith, lust and greed. The pacing is slow as the director gradually works to add intensity in every frame through the unique shot-takings, dialogues and performances.

While there is no particular attempt to give a period-feel to the film that spans almost four decades in the life of Susanna, the director leaves subtle hints of the changing era using references of national headlines like fall of Berlin wall, Babri Masjid issue, IC 814 hijack and the 2008 terror attack at Taj. With most of the film being restricted to Susanna’s farmhouse frontiers, the detailing isn’t much demanding either.

The multiple marriages certainly work as a self-realization journey for Susanna. She starts optimistically giving herself several chance, loses hope after a point, has to make compromise with life and finally surrenders to fate. Priyanka Chopra credibly brings out the metamorphosis in her internal psyche though her external transformation (makeup) seems overdone. She is vulnerable yet unforgiving. Much of her cold-blooded cruelness and courage comes from her partners-in-crime comprising of the maid (Usha Uthup), the mute domestic help Gunga (Shashi Malviya) and a concierge. While the murders in the narrative are evident, the motive behind them keeps you glued to the screen. And thankfully they don’t seem repetitive.

In a Vishal Bhardwaj film, music certainly has to be a highpoint. From the Russian folk inspired ‘ Darling ‘, to the rock number ‘ O Mama ‘, to the sublime ‘ Bekaraan ‘, he simply weaves magic with Gulzar. His background score is as much intriguing. Vintage interiors dominate the art design. The stable combat sequence between Rodriques and Gunga is thrillingly choreographed by Sham Kaushal.

Unarguably the film belongs to Priyanka Chopra who puts in a confident, consistent, convincing and authoritative act. After Priyanka, it’s Vivaan Shah who steals the show with his innocent charm. In his debut film, he impresses with his natural and poised performance bagging the meatiest male role of the film. From the husbands, Annu Kapoor is brilliant thanks to his amusing track. Irrfan Khan and Naseeruddin Shah are dependable as always. Neil Mukesh shines in his commanding personality. Shashi Malviya as Gunga is one of those excellent eccentric supporting characters you expect from a Vishal Bhardwaj film. Usha Uthup doesn’t get much scope.

A different, daring and darling attempt, 7 Khoon Maaf is killer stuff. Do not miss!

Source: Times Of India

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