By Subhash K Jha, IANS
Good intentions often don't translate into cinema of true worth. Sanjay Jha's STRINGS takes its young protagonist Warren Hastings (Adam Bedi) through a voyage into the mythic spirituality of the Hindu ethos.
The journey is at the most a half-baked seriously vapid attempt to capture the chants and visuals of the Kumbh Mela in a presentable package. The film fails miserably in keeping the faith alive. It instead strangulates the most cherishable aspects of the Hindu religion, turns it into a bundle of ineffectual energy and weans our attention into scenes that are woven into awkward pastiches of parodied spirituality.
Jha's film is like a pilgrimage to a holy place where the Gods have fled. God-forsaken and utterly devoid of any robustness STRINGS is like a vapid fling with feelings with which the director doesn't know how to get connected.
Instead Jha relegates the rhythms of religion to a scratch-level exposition of the aromas of the ‘agarbatti’ and the screech of the conchshell.
Alas the scent of the incense incenses. The spiritual reality that Jha courts is a comic–book existentialism seen through the eyes of a tourist who thinks the 'soul' of Hinduism lies in the eyes of the temple belle whom he courts while another female companion (Sandhya Mridul, as feisty as ever) fumes over the growing relationship between the two.
The namby-pamby voyage of the doped has Bedi moving in with a pundit (Vineeth Kumar) and his daughter (Tanishtha Chatterjee). The story of the ‘gora’ British guest and the chirpy pujari's daughter is so hackneyed, this could qualify as the stalest spiritual search since the invention of time.
The 90-minute exercise in utter futility is further encumbered by a couple of poorly choreographed music-video style songs which are meant to reveal the gay abandon of souls finding their métier in the melee of religiosity.
Rajeev Shrivastava captures the sights and sounds of the Kumbh Mela with brave lenses. But there's nothing to capture here beyond the touristic heaves and lurches of characters who seem to have been put in the religious milieu only because the director wanted to undertake an expedition into exotica.
Sanjay Jha could have spared himself and the audience the ordeal. The performers try hard to smother their giggles in a masquerade of sobriety.
But you can't fight the inevitable. By the time the pundit's perky daughter says, 'I do' to the effeminate Britisher (whose accent keeps slipping into a yankee twang) the narrative has gone into a stage of advanced torpidity.
Tragic waste of time and space.