By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Pushing the envelope comes easy to Ram Gopal Varma, especially in a film that’s about a man being pushed around by his wife to the point of no return.
Anil Kapoor gets an opportunity to play the harassed husband and protective papa all over again. Two years ago in Indra Kumar’s RISHTA he played the same role with ample aplomb. Now things have changed. Anil Kapoor has become more ambitious as an actor.
Getting into the role of the distraught husband seems an ache-walk for this methodical actor. He slips into the groove with an almost discernible whoop of joy and stretches his histrionic limbs to a taut and tense crescendo.
Some moments of this thriller about a loser on the run shake your soul. Others just leave you cold. At the end of the dreadful day, MY WIFE’S MURDER is a film that’s cold at the heart. The icy-cold feeling of a life lived in the wedge of emotional disintegration is well conveyed by Kapoor.
Also the authenticity of the locations helps. The office where Ravi Patwardhan works with his petite assistant (Nandana Sen), the congested but cosy flat where he returns dog tired to his children and nagging wife… even the locales where he tries to conceal his guilt and remorse after accidently murdering his loud wife… These add a wad of whopping brownie points to debutant director Jijy Philips subverted thriller about an accidental murder.
Impeccably shot by K.V. Vinod, the film’s only fault, if one may call it that, is that it’s a thriller without thrills or frills. Portions of the film are shot as an absorbing whodunit… the juxtaposition of Ravi desperately trying to clean his dead wife’s blood on the bedroom floor as the maid cleans the vessels in the kitchen, or that ironically fraught sequence where the protagonist drives out with his wife’s body stuffed into a tv carton as a baraati arrives in the building, are quite different from the didactic dimensions that Varma’s productions generate in the endeavour to bring to life the lives on the brink.
In certain vital ways Varma allows his debutant director to go againt the grain of his cinema. There’re emotional moments particularly those pertaining to the murdered woman’s children’s trauma which stir the storytelling up into a slight sentimental frenzy.
But the film never goes far enough in search of the cornered man’s lacerated soul. We’ve seen a traumatized man in Ram Gopal Varma’s Gayab being bullied into virtual oblivion by a bullying mother. The annoymous man in this film seems more of a loser since his life is un-alchemized by magic and fantasy.
It’s Boman Irani’s studied and yet slyly spontaneous turn as the cop investigating the domestic tragedy that brings the film to an optimum fruition. An actor of unending resources, Boman creates a cop who’s cocky capricious riveting and occasionally repulsive.
The brief glimpse into the cop’s home life (replete with a surly nagging wife) gives the narrative a delicious twist of agonized irony.
We see the cop constantly eating because he wants to avoid his wife’s lousy food. Is that an endorsement of spousal suffering, or what?
We see many moments of overt and in-your-face irony in the narrative. These supplant the essential tragedy with a sense of deliberate cinematic distancing. It’s as though Philip wanted to make a real film within a cinematic context. While portions of the narration heighten the dark domestic drama, other segments featuring Nandana Sen and her live-in (Rajesh Tandon) attempt to bring the film’s original thriller format to heel.
As Ravi Patwardhan, the consummate every-man with everyday fears nightmares and insecurities, runs from the law, the editing gets progressively frantic. Parts of the second-half are done almost at the pace of a telefilm.
So is this what happens, break be baad?
Oh yes, a word on Suchitra Krishnamurthy’s brief and shrill turn as a household harridan.
She gets the dead woman’s expression dead-on.