Asambhav Hindi Movie

Feature Film | 2004
Jun 14, 2004 By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

Rajiv Rai is in many ways the guru of hi-tech potboilers in Hindi. He shoots this gun-gals-gizmo film on international terrorism with a multitude of cameras.

Often we get split-screen views of the conflict on hand, with different cameras capturing the characters at different places simultaneously as they tackle the drama and politics of terrorism. At times we don't know where to look. After a while we give up.

Rai doesn't lag behind in technique. The techno-driven soundtrack gives a jagged edge to the plot, as our strong-and-silent commando officer Arya (Arjun Rampal) goes about the task of rescuing the Indian president (Mohan Agashe) from a chaotic clutter of villains.

Oh, the rogues come in all sizes, shapes and ages, from Shawar Ali to Naseeruddin Shah who exerts his cool demeanour on a script that allows an actor of his stature no breathing space.

There are no porous surfaces in Rai's stifling thriller. He clutters the plot with more characters than participants at a rock concert, clamouring for attention in various wigs, get-ups and attitudes.

There are three clearly demarcated levels of villainy.

In one corner we have Pakistani 'general' Milind Gunaji and terrorist Mukesh Rishi plotting over Kashmir. In another corner of the crowded plot, there's Naseeruddin Shah and soul brother Tom Alter running a kind of mercenary ashram for the wannabe millionaires of the world. And then there's the Indian high commission in Switzerland, overloaded with caricatures, including a Brahminical poet who recites the worst couplets we've ever heard.

To decode the motivations of different diabolical factions is an impossible task. Let's just say the villains and their underdressed molls have a field day, grunting and gyrating to the invisible sound of a drumbeat that takes the narration closer to catastrophe with every passing beat.

At some level, "Asambhav" could have served as a thrill-a-minute, indigenous "Mission Impossible", with the Kashmir issue in the backdrop. But the

crowded carnival of characters and a certain inherent tiredness in the telling of the terrorist's tale robs the film of its basic stock value.

Some of the action scenes by Mahendra Verma are conceived cannily. When the villains, the hero and his sidekick (Jamal Khan) head for the prolonged climax, shot in a picturesque castle that has surely seen better tourists, Arjun Rampal comes into his own as an action hero.

His controlled body movements and his overall penchant for understatement in a film that shrieks for attention is a relief.

Priyanka Chopra, playing the archetypal crooner-cum-club-dancer, has grown more confident before the camera. If only filmmakers would use her glamour more temperately instead of scattering it all over like confetti at a rowdy boys' reunion party.

Curiously, while the film swarms with slithering senoritas, no one registers as a real entity.

Viju Shah's music and Remo's choreography are at best, bland. The cinematographer Sukumar Jatania scampers after the impatient narrative. No shot lasts longer than 10 seconds. No character on the run ever gets to complete his task. The cameras do the needful.

What's truly astonishing is the absolute and unquestionable absence of emotions and melodrama. "Asambhav" is arguably the only mainstream film ever with no mother-figure on the hectic horizon.

But absence of melodrama cannot in itself be a virtue unless it is compounded by a moist quality in the overall design of storytelling.

Subhash K. Jha, IANS