The problem with a publicity campaign that hails the film as Amitabh Bachchan's best, before its release, is that you go in with a lot of expectations and Bachchan becomes the focal point of your attention. And the campaign I'm talking about are advertisements with 'credentials', a new form of marketing, which works well after the film has been released and applauded. This strategy makes sense then. Not before.
What the brains behind the marketing strategy have done is make the film ride on Bachchan's shoulder. Nothing wrong with that. But even in the dim lighting, you can see another powerful perfomer hold a candle to the master at his craft. Arjun Rampal steals a march over Bachchan, and I dare say, that Bachchan himself will testify to this. If it was not for Rampal's 'desire to perform' as Bachchan's character, Harry says it, the best in Bachchan would not have been out. Both complement each other in their eccentricities, which is what makes them a great pair as director and actor on screen. Clearly, this is Arjun Rampal's best performance to date! As for Mr Bachchan, give me AGNEEPATH anytime, over and over again!
There's no doubting Bachchan's virtuosity; he is an actor par excellence. But my grouse with the makers is this: in trying to promote Bachchan, which I'm sure he will be embarrassed about, they have done injustice to Rampal.
Rituparno Ghosh has assembled a good cast to give this film a theatrical feel. Shefali Chhaya, Divya Dutta, Preity Zinta and Jishu Sengupta from Kolkatta all lend excellent support to the pivotal roles played by Bachchan and Rampal.
Harry (Bachchan) is a theatre artist who has given up on his craft because someone said something about his 'live-in' relationship with Vandana (Shefali). He is a die-hard Shakespeare fan and quotes the maestro verbatim. He knows the stage like the back of his hand. Harry meets Siddharth (Rampal), a stubborn director and the two hit it off together. Siddharth has a film in mind and Harry is not aware. The two bond over Vodka and coffee and even install a CCTV inside Harry's living room to see who is 'relieving' himself at the entrance of Harry's residence! They spend some 'buddy' moments bonding big time before the movie goes on the floors.
Divya Dutta as the night nurse in charge of Harry, troubled by her own demanding boyfriend gives off a very good performance. Jishu Sengupta, stands tall in every frame he has to be with Bachchan; no mean feat. Preity Zinta and Shefali, too chip in their mite.
This movie is not for your everyday junta. It will have a very, very niche audience. And it's in English.
I have another grouse: Will someone explain to me why I have to strain my eyes to see the faces of the actors on screen with such dim lighting?