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Woodstock VillaWoodstock Villa : Movie Review
30th May 2008  23.35 IST
By Naresh K. Deoshi  


Hansal Mehta's film Woodstock Villa is an audio-visual assault on your senses. The movie is a tasteless slaughter of the film noir genre.

Producer Sanjay Gupta's fixation with style over substance seems to have rubbed off on the otherwise talented Hansal Mehta who shows an over infatuation for stylish shot-composition and jarring background music to such degrees that it gives you headache by the end of 'Woodstock Villa'. The entire film looks like an extended, elongated, stretched-out music video.




And if you thought the over-dramatic "vroom vroom" background sounds in the melodramatic TV soaps couldn't get worse, you gotta watch 'Woodstock Villa' to know how a loud background score can ruin an entire movie.

The only saving grace of the film is newcomer Sikander Kher , who may not have the looks of a Greek god, but has an arresting presence, a charming persona, a deep voice, and - most importantly - a talent for acting.

The film tells the story of a jobless youth Samir (Sikander) who sleeps around with his ex-boss's wife (which explains why he's jobless). He lives in a rented apartment but can't pay the rent and he owes money to a don who frequently gives him "tonic" (read thrashing) for not paying the dues.

At a discotheque, he falls for a stunner named Zara ( Neha Oberoi ), who makes him an unusual proposal to kidnap her because she wants to test her husband's love. And the husband here happens to be a rich businessman, Jatin Kampani ( Arbaaz Khan ).

Hard-pressed with need for money, Samir laps the offer only to find himself in a mess after Zara dies in captivity. He buries the body, erases the evidence, and leaves the city. But then another surprise awaits him.

'Woodstock Villa' is one of those movies that try desperately hard to jolt you with repeated twists in the tale. But the way those twists unravel takes the punch out of the plot. For instance, the final twist, when the camera specifically focuses on a bag with money on two different occasions when it changes hands kills the suspense for a discerning viewer.

But the major hara-kiri that Mehta commits is his over-indulgence in the film's audio-visual form. The hand-held jerky camera shots, the sudden zoom-ins and zoom-outs, the sepia tones, the deafening background score - that's not what film noir is about. You can't find a single continuous shot that lasts more than five seconds in this film. All this calls for skill and Mehta has it. But there is more to filmmaking than that. With its slick editing and ultra-imaginative camerawork, the movie tries to keep a step ahead of itself and never gives time for the story's characters to gather roots, thereby robbing the plot of its emotive appeal.

To put it in other words, 'Woodstock Villa' is a vain and superficial work of cinema.

Thankfully, Sikander Kher is the silver lining in this dark enterprise. The guy has it in him to carry a movie on his sole shoulders. There are a few moments in the movie that show glimpses of his potential. It is a pity that 'Woodstock Villa' is his launchpad.

Neha Oberoi is eye-catching and manages her part without hamming. Arbaaz Khan has at last begun to act in the real sense of the word. Sanjay Dutt 's song seems deliberately squeezed in the narrative.

'Woodstock Villa' is a film that will appeal to those who are a sucker for style. Those who want substance should better steer clear of this movie.

Rating: *1/2



Related
Woodstock Villa
Hansal Mehta
Sikander Kher
Neha Oberoi
Arbaaz Khan
Sanjay Dutt





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