Tuesday, February 22

7 Khoon Maaf is disappointing!!

Movie - 7 Khoon Maaf (Hindi)
Director - Vishal Bhardwaj
Producers - Vishal Bhardwaj, Ronnie Screwvala
Cast - Priyanka Chopra, Naseeruddin Shah, Annu Kapoor, Irrfan Khan, John Abraham, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vivaan Shah, Aleksandr DyachenkoUsha Uthup, Harish Khanna
Music - Vishal Bhardwaj
Cinematography - Ranjan Palit
Editor - Sreekar Prasad
Story - Ruskin Bond
Screenplay, Dialogues - Vishal Bhardwaj, Matthew Robbins
Lyrics - Gulzar
Release Date - 18th February 2011

Vishal Bhardwaj had grown to be a master filmmaker with films like Maqbool, Omkara, The Blue Umbrella & Kaminey behind him. So when he announced 7 Khoon Maaf, an adaptation of Ruskin Bond’s short story Susanna’s Seven Husbands, all eyes were on him to see how he would translate that story which had limited cinematic appeal to a big budget Hindi film with such a huge cast. And the bad news is that 7 Khoon Maaf is Vishal’s weakest film to date and is a huge disappointment to fans of the composer turned director.

Designed as a dark comedy, 7 Khoon Maaf tells the story of Susanna who is in search of love and goes wrong each time in choosing a partner. And then, Vishal Bhardwaj spells out episodes in Susanna’s life where she marries, kills her partner and remarries in the most predictable fashion. An impotent army-man, a coke-snorting rockstar, a sadomasochistic poet, a two-timing Russian spy, a lecherous cop and a doctor who has other schemes and an adopted orphan are the men in her life. Each husband is introduced, gets a song or two to show his romance with Susanna, reveals his flaw and then conveniently gets bumped off.  On one side, Bhardwaj tells Susanna is a psychopath who would rather kill a dog who is in her way than take another safer route available. And on the other hand, he gives us the impression that Susanna is a lady who is in constant search of true love, but never able to get it. Ultimately, the audience is left confused as to who Susanna really is. And of course, Susanna clearly hasn’t heard of a concept called divorce.

Priyanka Chopra’s performance is inconsistent. She is very good in some scenes and very poor in some other. And most of it has a heavy hangover of what she did in Fashion. She doesn’t look convincing as an ageing lady and the patchy make-up does even more damage. All the male actors have given poorly developed characters with very little screen time dedicated to each of them. Neil Nitin Mukesh is ridiculous, John Abraham is convincing, Irrfan is great, the Russian actor Aleksandr Dyachenko is charming, Annu Kapoor is brilliant and Naseeruddin Shah is wasted in a poorly written role. Vivaan Shah, son of Naseeruddin Shah, making his debut, has perhaps the best written character in the movie and he plays it effortlessly. Harish Khanna as the butler makes a mark. Ruskin Bond, on whose story the film is based, makes an appearance too. Usha Uthup is decent. Konkona Sen Sharma pitches in a delightful cameo. 

There are indicators in the form of crises and major events in the country like Operation Bluestar, the Babri Masjid demolition, the nuclear test, Kandahar hijack and 26/11 to indicate which time period the narrative is taking place in. Otherwise, the world Vishal has created in this movie is quite detached from our regular world. He also gives smart references to novels The Seven Wives of Bluebird and Anna Karenina, and even Deewaar (why didnt someone tell the Russian that 'Mere Paas Maa Hai' is Shashi Kapoor's line, not Amitabh Bachchan's). There are dialogues and moments which reminds one of the incredible talent of Bhardwaj, but they are few and far in between. The movie follows a completely predictable narrative which leads to an interesting surreal climax and epilogue, but by then the audience had already lost interest. 

Ranjan Palit’s camera keeps us in the dark world of Susanna and Sreekar Prasad’s editing is confusing, reminding one of his work in Raavan. The visual effects are very poor and gimmicky. Good news is that Vishal Bhardwaj doesn’t disappoint as a music composer as he comes up with a fantastic score with great songs such as India's first true-blue rock song O Mama, the chartbuster Darling & the sublime Bekaraan along with lyricist Gulzar. But it is a crime for a composer like Vishal Bhardwaj to create a gem of a song like Tere Liye for a movie and then not include it in the movie. The background score sounds more like Rahman than Bhardwaj.

All in all, 7 Khoon Maaf is a major disappointment coming from one of India’s best filmmakers Vishal Bhardwaj.  It is not a bad movie, but it is certainly not a good movie too. Lets hope the maverick filmmaker comes back to form with his next, a film in a more commercial format - the 2 States adaptation with Shahrukh Khan in the lead. What stays with you after 7 Khoon Maaf are the brilliant songs and the striking image of a snow white cat against the backdrop of the snowy peaks in Kashmir. 

Rating – 2.5/5


  1. Mr. Vivek, I was truly dissapointed ... not wid d film actually, wid ur review which has been lifted from many critics like Khalid Mohamed and Raja sen ...

    I can see "a Russian who says, “Mere paas maa hai…Bachchan you know..ha ha.” Tsk, she doesn’t even inform him that the line was uttered by Shashi Kapoor" from http://passionforcinema.com/saat-khoon-maaf-movie-review-wed-until-very-dark/ where your translation is (why didnt someone tell the Russian that 'Mere Paas Maa Hai' is Shashi Kapoor's line, not Amitabh Bachchan's). !!!!

    and Raja sen's "There are inevitably a few very clever moments in the film -- a scene involving a white cat in the snow, for example, or that marvelous last line about broken spectacles" from http://www.rediff.com/movies/report/raja-sen-reviews-7-khoon-maaf/20110218.htm . You conveniently translated it into "What stays with you after 7 Khoon Maaf are the brilliant songs and the striking image of a snow white cat against the backdrop of the snowy peaks in Kashmir. " which has a hangover of Rajeev Masand also who ended his review in the same note !!!

    For what ?? to show the world that you r someding critique ???
    Pity on U for this forceful review 4 just d sake of a show off !!! 2 thumbs down for the review and d reviewer, courtesy to Masand !

  2. Well all of us have seen the same film. And its not called lifting when you notice something which someone else had already noticed before you. The Shashi Kapoor line and the white cat were things in the film which is out there for you to see. And there are bound to be similar things spotted by so many people writing on the same film.

    Also, I dont write to show off. And I dont think I have even a quarter of the talent or experience in writing reviews like these two have. (Even though I think Khalid Mohammed is a very bad critic). And let me tell you, I do not review movies which I feel I'm forcefully writing about. I stopped myself from writing a review on even 3 Iditos because I felt I was being forceful.

  3. @ Joe, Hi, Not to sound like a bitch fight but I wanted to add that regardless if the person writing is a professional/freelance writer or not, if there is a striking scene or aspect about a film, then you are bound to see it,even if its one line, mentioned in even the most applauded and distinguished of reviewers. I have read reviews for years now by some amazing writers and I can assure you there were major similarities.

    Once again this isn't to make an issue out of it, just as a point view that may clear up the distaste.

  4. vivek, dnt feel bad, bro... u shud watch dis movie once again.... dis is a humble request. while u r watchin stay calm and dont be so prejudiced. even then u r having the same stupid feelin which u 've expressd, den wait until karan johar's nxt release... dat will satisfy ur so calld feelings.....

    and bro, i think sombody gav u a wrong impression abt dis movie ... u cant nvr xpect the same movies frm the same director.... aftr all vishal is not B. unnikrishnan.... keep that in mind.... 'm not here to fight or anything... but i cant simply stand ur statements.... it is vry childish, lik 'i expected dis but u dnt gav dat' ..... dis is ridiculous, u shud read da story first..... the story is widely accepted and only because of that vishal made his movie with ruskin bond's story.... so wat is the point f blaming vishal, n he only made da movie out of the story, n there is not point in ur statement dat -'Naseeruddin Shah is wasted in a poorly written role'- and da character 'Dr. Modhusudhon Tarafdar' is only have dat much importance and only dat much scenes are enuf for naseer to convey his role....

    if u read the story u nevr ask the question 'wasn't susane aware of divorce '. it is in dat way the story is told... and its a matter of human emotions dude...

    and the funny part is dat, which u and Khalid Mohamed quoted 'Mere Paas Maa Hai' sequence... dude he is a russian.... an he can afford to commit such mistakes..... and for that Susanne's reaction is a smile only ..... dat itself gives u the answer to ur question.

    den vivek pls get rid off the malayalee in u..(*context - mentioning rahman)

    well u r really gud @ malayalam reviews continue with dat, 'coz v dnt 've malayalam reviewers ...
    and dude nvr take dis as a duty to write 'CRITICAL APPRECIATION' to each and every films u watch...

    CAUTION: "a gud critic nevr becom a gud film maker " - 'coz da moment u start making film the director persona in u gets afraid of the critic in u. and u'll end up making a bad film like 'Khalid Mohamed'(Silsiilay)

  5. @Ajai Rahul, i was prejudiced.. sure.. i was prejuiced that this movie is going to be bloody awesome.. and it turned out to be disappointing. and i have written an account of my disappointment here.

    if i'm expected to read the story first and then watch the movie, why have the trouble of the watching the movie itself?? did vishal bhardwaj make the movie for people who've read the book alone? i'm talking about the movie which i've watched and this is just my opinion about it.

    why should i read the story?? i watched the movie and it left a lot of questions in my mind which i've written as part of my reactions.. if he has not answered that in the movie, that is his mistake as a writer-director. i never said anything wrong about ruskin bond or his story. what i saw was the film VB made based on that story. and when i mentioned that naseer saab was wasted in a poorly written, i was talking about the screenplay, which becomes the structure of the movie, not the short story which i havent read. and an actor of naseer saab's caliber wasnt required in such a role.

    and murder is not a matter of human emotions. that too a series of murders.. and just a dialogue cannot explain why the person is committing so many murders. especially when an easier and legitimate route called divorce exists.

    i sat through the entire movie because vishal bhardwaj is one of my favourite directors and i was hoping that he would get it right at least by the end of the film. i dont expect the same 'KIND' of films from the same director. but i expect a certain quality of work.

    and i dont write about each and every movie i watch. i am person who tries to find the positives even in the worst of movies.. which u can realize by the number of negative reviews in this blog. and u dont have to tell me which kind of movies i have to like or whether i have to wait for karan johar's next film.

    why would a mention of ar rahman make me a malayali?? and what connection does ar rahman, a tamilian have with malayalis??

    i would continue to write about hindi films, both ones i've liked and not liked. if u dont like them, u dont have to read them.

    and thanks for ur caution, i know very well what happened to khalid mohammed. and if u havent heard of a good critic becoming a good filmmaker, please see some of fracois truffaut's works. i'm not aspiring to be any of them, but i know i wouldnt make something which i would be embarrassed of.

  6. Its one thing to disagree with my views.. but u cant assume things about me and start advising me. ur problem is with my perception of the movie and u're going on attacking that. temme what you thought was wrong about my perception and give valid counterpoints against them. that would start a healthy discussion.. discussions are healthy when people respect each others' opinions. not by forcing down ur opinion over others.

  7. http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/features/2011/03/07/7150/index.html

    And read this about the book, if u have the time.