With sincere thanks to my friend Suketu who inspired me to write a review of Bollywood movie – Rakht which was released in 2004, the first thing that I am willing to say is that I wish I were the director of this movie. Good direction can convert an average script into an admirable movie and poor direction can spoil even the greatest script. And that’s what exactly happened to this flick produced by the then liquor-cum-aviation baron, Vijay Mallya; whose plot has been lifted straightaway from a Hollywood movie – The Gift (2000).
There is an ancient Indian maxim – JISKA KAAM USEE KO SAAJE, AUR KARAY TO PAAGAL BAAJE (one should do that job only which suits him or in which he is skilled; if he does someone else’ job, he will be considered mad because he will fail miserably at that). And that’s what I am willing to convey to Mahesh Manjrekar, the director of hard-hitting, realistic and touching movies like – Vaastav, Tera Mera Saath Rahe, Nidaan, Ehsaas, City of Gold etc. Making a good suspense-thriller is not anybody’s cup of tea. There was a time in Bollywood when brilliant suspense-thriller specialists like Vijay Anand, Raj Khosla, Raja Nawathe, Shankar Mukherjee, Biren Nag, Raghunath Jhalani and even B.R. Chopra were active in the field who gave us memorable suspense-thrillers like Teesri Manzil, Jewel Thief, Hamraaz, Mera Saaya, Woh Kaun Thi, Anita, Gumnaam, Mahal, Bees Saal Baad, Baat Ek Raat Ki, Kohra, Anamika, Uljhan, Kanoon, Dhund etc. Now there are no such directors with the exception of Abbas-Mustan who have directed some good suspense-thrillers like Khiladi, Baazigar, Soldier, Race etc. Mahesh Manjrekar made an attempt to do their job, falling flat on his face. He could not just handle the brilliant script stolen from The Gift in his inexperienced hands (for this type of movie). Had someone like Raj Khosla made this movie during the sixties or the seventies, it could have been a classic.It’s a murder-mystery with insertion of supernatural element through the God-given capability of the main protagonist (Bipasha Basu) to foresee future events. She is a single mother (widow) of an eight years old son, other than being a tarot card reader and an astrologer by her profession. The mystery is of the murder of Amrita Arora who first goes missing and then is found murdered with her dead body lying in a lake. There are many characters associated with the life of the central character of the movie, i.e., Bipasha, viz. Sanjay Dutt who is the principal of her son’s school, Payal Rohatgi who is her friend, Neha Dhupia who is her another friend, Dino Morea who is a rowdy and Neha’s wife-beater husband, Sunil Shetty who is a crazy motor-mechanic and considers Bipasha as his good friend, Shashikala who is her granny and whose spirit comes to bless her after death (Bipasha doesn’t know by that time that her granny is no more), Himanshu Mallik who was Amrita’s secret lover, Abhishek Bachchan who is her ex-beau etc. Finally the face of the murderer is revealed, bringing an end to the suspense after many scenes which consist of the police activity and the court-room arguments of the lawyers involved too.The treatment of this excellent plot is not at all coherent and impressive and the only face-saving grace is the outstanding performance of Bipasha alongwith some really good scenes (the best one, in my opinion, is the scene in which the spirit of Bipasha’s granny, Shashikala gets evaporated into the air in front of her eyes). Due to poor direction, the movie which could have become an excellent one on overall basis, has been reduced to an assembly of some good and some bad scenes. It was promoted as a spine-chilling thriller but there is neither any chill for the viewer’s spine, nor any good suspense (most of the viewers can guess the real murderer with relative ease), nor any momentum to keep the viewer continuously on the edge of his seat. The script of a good suspense-thriller should be well-knitted and all the incidents being shown on the screen should have a logical association among them whereas the narrative of Rakht seems to be scattering here and there amidst the scenes which have not been sensibly linked and kept in proper sequence.Anand Raj Anand’s music is passable. Two songs are good though. However these songs as well as the flash-back entry of Abhishek Bachchan only block the flow of the narrative. Had I directed this movie, either I would have made it sans any songs or would have made the music team prepare at least one good mystery song(in terms of words and composition) deepening the mist in the story.I am a die-hard fan of Bipasha Basu and hence my opinion towards her performance may be biased. Still the viewers will agree that she is the pivotal character of the story around whom the other ones move in a circle. And it’s her only who keeps the viewer’s interest alive in the movie. Though performers like Sunil Shetty, Dino Morea, Sanjay Dutt, Neha Dhupia etc. have tried their best to do justice to their assigned roles, the problem is that their characters have not been properly developed in the movie. They are sketchy and therefore, fail to leave a mark.
Cinematography and technical aspects of the movie are more or less okay. Background score is also okay though I have already mentioned that the movie fails to scare despite the tall claims of its makers. All things said and done, it’s not a horror movie; it’s a suspense movie.The title of the movie is also totally inappropriate because the story has nothing to do with Rakht or Rakt (blood).
Still, I recommend this movie to the fans of Bipasha Basu as well as those who like mysteries very much because though it’s not well made, the story is pretty good. The mystery-fans who have not watched the Hollywood movie – The Gift, may like it as a one time watch. I wish Vijay Mallya used his business prudence while choosing the director of this movie which could not ensure the recovery of his invested money.
My overall rating for the movie is 2.5 stars. It could have become a movie worth the rating of 4 or 5 stars, had it been directed by Jitendra Mathur instead of Mahesh Manjrekar.
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