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Director :
Starring :
 Vinod Pande
 Shiny Ahuja, Seema Rahman, Nitesh Pande

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS Send to Friend

It's so easy to jump the gun and label this film as sexy and sacrilegious. But to dump "Sins" among the cheesy stuff is to miss the whoop for the spree.

"Sins" is certainly not a sinful pretext for gratuitous sex and nudity.

Ripping a cruel page out of the newspapers, writer-director Vinod Pande has reconstructed a dramatic and often shocking tale of forbidden love between a Catholic priest and a junior disciple.

Pande ("Ek Baar Phir", "Yeh Nazdeekiyan", "Ek Naya Rishta" and "Sach") is never a stranger to the dark side of love and relationships.

In "Sins" too, he doesn't stop at the bedroom door, but manages to build an intimidating pyramid of desperate passion between Father Williams (Shiny Ahuja) and Rosemary (Seema Rahmani).

One recalls the old 1960's film "The Priest's Wife" in which Italian director Carlo Ponti cast Sophia Loren as the seductress humorously hankering the priest Marcello Mastroianni.

In "Sins", Vinod Pande denudes the theme of all its inherent humour - what we see is a luminously lit, starkly shot film, suffused with the sounds of hearts and souls cracking and falling apart.

The Jesuit theme isn't up for exploitation here.

Pande's protagonist is undoubtedly a priest, and Williams' conduct certainly unorthodox.

But the theme of sexual exploitation is not done in a squeamish or apologetic way.

The lovemaking sequences between Williams and Rosemary get progressively wild and desperate until the narrative reaches a point of irredeemable tragedy with the priest's love turning into perverse possessiveness.

Pande is best at depicting the beast in the priest. The later portions, where Rosemary makes determined efforts to escape Williams' obsessive attentions to be with her kind husband Graham (Nitesh Pande), are done with severe intensity and desperate anxiety.

"Sins" isn't an easily digestible "love" story. The volatile central relationship and the priest's rapid moral degeneration are cannily codified by good performances.

For virtual newcomers, Shiny Ahuja and Seema Rahmani are surprisingly fluent in exploring the dark side of lust and love.

Though a trifle awkward in his demeanour Ahuja's expressions change from anxiety to brutality with remarkable fluency.

Rahmani is restrained and effective in conveying both her character's vulnerability and cunning.

What comes in the way of their performances are the speech patterns - the thickly laden "Keralite" accents often go awry and end up coming in the way of emotions.

What saves the day is the relatively quiet soundtrack punctuated by fits of Williams' flinch-inducing fury.

The sequence at the girls' hostel from where William calls Rosemary away on the pretext that her mother is ill is remarkable.

"I'm ill I'm suffering!" bellows William before tearing Rosemary's clothes off.

The explicit depiction of anxieties that underline the clandestine liaison is keenly contoured in the two protagonists' body language, and the way the director silhouettes them in mid close-ups.

"Sins" is by no means an outstanding piece of work.

But its essentially scandalous theme is underscored by moments of structural serenity and a quiet subtlety that avert the imminent danger of surfacing salaciousness.

The seaside location - almost replicating Ramesh Sippy's "Sagar" - secrete a great deal of unspoken turbulence.

Vinod Pande has never been afraid of reaching into unlit areas of the man-woman relationship.

In "Sins" he goes all the way to show a priest's descent into unbecoming passion. At the same time, the narrative desists from portraying Rosemary as a pure victim.

A sequence like the one where she takes off her nurse's uniform after Williams gifts her with pearl beads, or the one where Rosemary's mother (Uttara Baokar) gently leaves her daughter in privacy with the priest, indicate how sexual barter is a religion in itself.

Nothing comes for free.

"Sins" shows that wages of passion is moral doom.

The cowering fear of Rosemary and the glowing colours of the frames almost indicate the flavour of dying embers.

There are scenes of painful violence between the couple sharing a bonding of shame and pain, thereby converting the religion of love into a grotesque travesty.

All sections of the audience may not quite agree with Vinod Pande's lust for life and his characters' life of lust.

But it's a life anyway, recounted in bold, confident strokes of passion, pain, and alas, no redemption.

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