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Director :
Starring :
 Darshan Bagga
 Jas Pandher, Kanishka, Saddiya, Danny Denzongpa, Prem Chopra, Ashish Vidyarthi, Tej Sapru, Shakti Kapoor and Raj Babbar

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS Send to Friend

It's a 'glaring' strategy. The film's official hero Jas Pandher changes his glares in almost every sequence. This, you soon realise, is an ingenious method of hiding the actor's ineptness as a performer.

And if the budget for the goggles came to more than the film's entire production cost, then who are we to complain?

The nitty-gritty of producing an in-house film is a matter to be sorted out between the hero and his producer-dad. Both seem to have worked really hard at creating a product that does its utmost to conceal Jas' glaring weaknesses.

Alas there are so many of them, where do we begin to count ways in which Jas isn't equipped to be an actor? Let's just say, he tries.

But director Darshan Bagga isn't even guilty of trying. The script is a sprawling, unwieldy, incoherent suspense drama with villains popping out of every nook and cranny,trying to look menacing, mirthful and monstrously motivated.

Like all the whodunits, from "Teesri Manzil" and "Gumnam" to "100 Days" and "Raaz", "Shikaar" unfolds in a tranquil hill station. Like all of them, the red herrings are strewn so densely in the plot, we tend to forget that the narrative is in search of a killer's identity. Who killed the script - if it was ever alive - that's the question.

The convoluted goings-on seem to be aimed at creating a tense confusion. The writer-director gets halfway there. Bagga clogs the frames with bodies. The murders get so frequent, fatal and inventive that the scriptwriters finally settle for killing off two of the villains (Prem Chopra and Shakti Kapoor) in a pair, and quickly move to the climactic combat between arch villain Danny Denzongpa and the hero.

The fights are undoubtedly done with a gourmand's gusto.

"Shikaar" creates a world of decadence. Every character, male or female, exudes the sweaty scent of lives on the edge. Cinematographer Naren Gedia fills the saturated frames with sounds and visuals that compound the climate of incessant gluttony.

"Shikaar" is the filmed equivalent of a belch.

The basic idea seems to be borrowed from Shah Rukh Khan's devil-may-care act in "Baazigar". The twist in the stale tale comes with a sibling's wail, as the mayhem-filled ambience turns into a shrieking homage to the melodrama of sibling bonding. After murder and mayhem, brother meets sister.Who knows what mood overtakes the plot and why? "Shikaar" seems to be conceived with the intention of not grabbing our attention but diverting it with one weird intrusion after another, so that the film is finally an amalgamation of red-herrings leading nowhere.

Ironically, the cop on duty - Raj Babbar, trying to look seriously detached from the maelstrom of mayhem - keeps forgetting the hero's name. Can't blame him.

Though production values are not below average, the performances are pure vaudeville. The most meaty part goes to starlet Saadhika who shares honours with Shweta Menon and then goes beyond to do some heavy duty drama.

Lucky woman. At least she seems to know what she's doing. Wish we could say the same about the rest of the cast and crew.

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