2004-01-27T00:00:00 12:00:00 AM
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By By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
2004-01-27T00:00:00 12:00:00 AM
After Saif Ali Khan in "Ek Hasina Thi", it's time for another dimpled demon to play the demolition man. In "Aetbaar" John Abraham does the moonwalk of a wacko across Bipasha Basu's emotions.

While Saif dimpled with petrifying rationale, John's irrationality knows no bounds. His unmoored manic manoeuvre is done in cyclonic over-the-top motions of superficial sensations: floppy hair, awry dimples and bloodied jaws that would make Mark Wahlberg shiver in remembrance. Wahlberg had played the role in the 1990s thriller "Fear" where 16-year-old Reese Witherspoon's dad walloped the wacko hard.

From the start, "Aetbaar" wears a stale and sapped look of dreadful d?j? vu. Father Amitabh Bachchan and daughter Bipasha look as comfortable together as two strangers who must make intimate conversation at an airport lounge while they wait for their grounded flight.

Bachchan has done the hurt-father act in "Baghbaan" with far more heartbreaking results. There's nothing more he can do with the parental hurt except give it a desperate wrench in tight close-ups. With Supriya Pilgaonkar - so delightfully comic in Vikram Bhatt's "Awara Paagal Deewana" - playing wife to Bachchan, this has got to be the most dysfunctional and mismatched Bollywood family ever.

Willy-nilly this film is a walking, talking recommendation for condoms. After seeing the grief that surgeon Bachchan suffers because of his obstinate daughter, who would want to invest precious emotions in a progeny who insists on going to college in clothes suited for a wild party and who falls for a punk on a motorbike who's so crooked that he makes Saif Ali Khan in "Ek Haseena Thi" look like prince charming.

Aryan (John) not only refuses to comb his hair, but a flashback shows him throwing his father into a bonfire when papa objects to Aryan's leery looks at his petrified teacher (Shruti Ulfat).

It's sad to see Vikram Bhatt rip off the same source, "Fear", twice in three months. To his credit this rip-off is far less seamless in "Aetbaar" than in "Inteha".

In "Fear", Mark Wahlburg got to provide erotic pleasure to his co-star. John must content himself with a shower in his co-star's company. It must be said that John compares favourably with Walburg.

Bipasha doesn't even try to go beyond the skin of her character. It's hilarious to see the authoritative Bipasha doing the touch-me-not act with John. Surprisingly there's zero-chemistry between the ostensibly hot-hot pair even when they take a shower together. Cinematographer Pravin Bhatt catches the couple in resplendent close-ups. Unfortunately there's little feeling or even logic to underscore the lucid camerawork or Raju Singh's evocative background music.

There are glaring anomalies in the narrative. To take one gloriously glaring instance: Aryan bangs his head repeatedly on the lift's iron gate to protest Bachchan's parental authority. In the very next sequence his head is totally freed of all evidence of his psychosis.

In all his 101 recent films, Vikram Bhatt has gone into a near-identical territory. His crew, supporting cast and even thematic threads reek of mindless repetition.

Bachchan is the key here. That look of desperate helplessness as his daughter romps with a certifiable psycho is lucidly mapped on his face.

But after seeing what Rajkumar Santoshi has done with his persona in "Khakee", one can only suggest a soul-searching sabbatical for Vikram Bhatt.