clear clear clear clear clear

Director :
Music :
Lyrics :
Starring :
 Ken Ghosh
 Anu Malik
 Fardeen Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Shahid Kapur, Kim Sharma, Akhilendra Mishra.

By Subhash K Jha, IANS Send to Friend

At a time when an out-and-out conventional love triangle "Mujhse Shaadi Karoge" has the nation giggling in helpless submission, Ken Ghosh dares to innovate with a slick thriller that moves at breakneck speed to end at just under two hours.

Fida WallpapersGhosh's film is a triumphant home-coming for Hindi cinema where any film under 180 minutes is automatically taken to be a 'songless' thriller ("Ittefaq" in 1969 and "Bhoot" in 2003 are two successful examples).

"Fida" is short, crisp and compelling without losing on commercial value. It has loads of Anu Malik's zip-in-zip-out songs, tonnes of glamour (Kareena and Fardeen in a bath-tub as bubbles of all kinds blow across the film's giddy frame), a dash of oomph (Kim Sharma, doing a short-skirt big-pout version of Karisma Kapoor in "Dil To Pagal Hai") and slick production replete with eye-catching locales, yatches, sports cars...the works.

But, above all "Fida" has chutzpah. Ken Ghosh, who made a minor ripple at the boxoffice with his debut "Ishq Vishq", is in a mood here to reverse many of the rules of formula filmmaking. There's no conventional lead pair or a 'Good Versus Evil' format to sustain the battle.

Fida Wallpapers"Fida" is all about contemporary avarice and amorality. The three main characters are all dispossessed creatures driven single-mindedly by worldly passions. They all want to own the best things in life - and what's wrong with that? Except - and this is where Ghosh slips - their means of acquiring their dreams makes them ruthlessly self serving.

Ghosh is a clever raconteur. His storytelling, though sporadically stymied by glaring loopholes, moves sinuously through the lives of his three characters, all playing a sinister and dangerous game that finally destroys their lives - collectively and individually.

The narrative is high-pitched, though blessedly devoid of hysteria. There are no snivelling sisters, no martyred mothers and bravura fathers..... gosh! where do Ghosh's protagonists come from?! The plot doesn't say so either. What the characters do with their lives in this ambition-driven thriller is of far more consequence than their antecedents.

The razor-edged plot cuts like a knife, slicing through restless on-the-edge lives. "Interesting...very interesting," says Vikram (Fardeen Khan) playing a computer hacker who's too clever for his good, after the desperate lover-boy Jai (Shahid Kapur) tells his story. Jai is being led on by the bountifully beauteous Neha (Kareena Kapoor). By the time her scheme of things materializes in the rapidfire motions of Ghosh's narration, it's too late for any of the characters-or for that matter the director - to turn back.

"Fida" is the sort of tumbling, cascading catch-your-breath-if-you-can thriller-on-the-run that could go wrong any second. Ken Ghosh's split-second timing and perfectly cast set of actors, not to mention a soundtrack that's saturated but never cluttered with edge-of-the-seat strategies, ensure an attentive audience.

The term 'edge-of-the-seat' (no matter how frayed) seems to have been invented for this occasion. The compelling narration is propelled forward by the performances. Fardeen is effortlessly suave as the scheming hacker. As for Kareena, after "Chameli" and "Dev" earlier this year, she evolves further as an actress.

Fida WallpapersPlaying a designer version of Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth, Kareena goes from artless seduction to heartless greed, to guilt pangs and finally remorseless surrender to her baser instincts. In the sequences depicting her moral degeneration Kareena, echoing Shabana Azmi in a long-forgotten film "Log Kya Kahenge", resembles Meryl Streep.

The film marks the coming-of-age of not just the director but also his leading man. Conveying the besotted misdemeanours of a desperate lover, Shahid Kapur reveals surprisingly hidden depths of sensitivity. Yup, he could grow into a substantial talent, provided he watches his steps.

The film does just that, until the incongruously manufactured climax where Kareena is tied to a mammoth church bell by the sleazy underworld don Akhilendra Mishra (playing the most over-the-top gangster ever seen on screen) while the two warring men in her life come together just once to rescue her.

So finally it's love and not moolah that makes Ghosh's snarled and seductive world go around. The over-stylised climax and the feebly idealistic ending do their bit to damage the leaps that "Fida" takes over the boundary walls of the formula fortress. What the compromises cannot kill are the film's inbuilt insouciant plot-construction and gloriously grey-to-black characterizations.

This is one film you've got to see!

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