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Director :
Starring :
 Aftab Shivdasani, Gracy Singh, Neha, Pravin Dabas, Vrajesh Hirjee, Anjala Zaveri.

Subhash K. Jha, IANS Send to Friend

The hotshot fashion designer with a filmy name like Samir Oberoi (Aftab Shivdasani) is a close friend of his gay sidekick Satin (Vrajesh Hirjee) who behaves like the character Maddy in the TV soap Jassi Jaisi...Koi Nahin.

And like the soap, you should be watching "Muskaan" at home instead of wasting time viewing this abominable tripe, which is a rip off from Arjun Sablok's tender and heartwarming love story "Na Tum Jano Na Hum" about two sensitive and romantic strangers who have never met, never seen each other, but are still in love.

A sweet if improbable premise that worked because of Sablok's sensitivity towards the subject and since the two principal actors Hrithik Roshan and Esha Deol looked so much in love that you forgave them their shortsightedness.

When Aftab Shivdasani and Gracy Singh coo and sing to each other over the telephone, you want to tear your hair in despair. They look as made for each other as step-siblings squabbling over family inheritance. There should be more control and command over chemistry between screen couples specially when they portray intense lovers.

With a lead pair that looks at each other more with curiosity than passion, where can "Muskaan" take us but to disinterest, ennui and finally the exit. In spite of a few good songs composed by Nikhil-Vinay, "Muskaan" brings no cheer - only a frown - on audience faces.

Its fatally flawed vision extends from its warped definitions of love and passion ("I can't be with you because I'm committed to a girl I've never seen," Aftab tells Gracy with a straight face - as straight as it can get for Shivdasani) to the competitiveness and bickering in the fashion world that look as real as Gracy Singh's straight-haired chic-trick.
The protagonist Samir's gaggle of fashion-designing friends, played by Pravin Dabas and others look like they have never designed a knicker in their life. That whole subplot about Neha being in love with her group leader is blatantly borrowed from Yash Chopra's "Dil To Pagal Hai".

Remember how Karisma Kapoor had to be replaced with Madhuri Dixit in Shah Rukh Khan's dance troupe after the former broke her leg? Neha breaks more than just a leg. She's bumped off by a mysterious assassin in an over-sized overcoat with a kitchen knife.

Halfway through, "Muskaan" becomes a murder mystery! The suspects - all lined up against the psychedelic wall by a scowling inspector Gulshan Grover - have a tough time explaining their whereabouts in this inert romantic music thriller.

In a twist to a plot that would have made Agatha Christie choke on her cyanide, Neha draws an 'S' with her blood on the bed before kicking the bucket.

She ought to be kicking the co-directors instead for casting her in such a mildewed mould as the over-possessive 'Other Woman'.

Ditto for the other sickening stereotypes such as the gay dress designer who cackles so hard and makes so many passes at passers-by, you want to pass out in sheer exasperation.

Earlier on we used to have the token 'Rahim Chacha' in potboilers to please one minority group. Now the filmmaker's gaze has fallen on a token gay presence.

Welcome to the sexual revolution, according to tinsel town. On the surface, "Muskaan" tries to be oh-so-cool and urban about man-woman relationships. Young men and women share space at their working place without squirming. At heart, the film is as conservative as Hindi cinema can get.

The bland fare has a bit of everything - a lead couple who worship the ground beneath each other's feet, song breaking out every 10 minutes, the love-theme song that Samir fails to hear (although his dial-a-romance friend is singing it right under his nose!), and suddenly, a child dying of a hole in the heart who wants the hero 'Sam' to play the piano for him.

Play it again, Sammy Boy. Maybe this time "Muskaan" (smile) will hear you. We have better things to do.

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