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Nishabd movie review

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Cast Amitabh Bachchan, Jiah Khan, Revathi, Aaftab Shivdasani    more...
Director Ram Gopal Varma
Drama / General.

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The Nishabd Movie Review

By Naresh Kumar Deoshi
Rating: 4/5

Damn the convention. And damn the cheesy, escapist cinema of Bollywood in which heroes deliver lofty dialogues and talk of ideals that sound good only on the screen and not in real life. Ram Gopal Varma's film 'Nishabd', with all its strength and shortcomings, is a piece of quality cinema that talks openly and unabashedly about things and emotions that many would prefer to be swept under the carpet.

A film like 'Nishabd' is certainly not for the laity. Masses and box office will not be kind to this film. After all, it has no songs, no items, no moral preaching, no action and no heroism. Moreover, there are some jerks in editing. And the print quality of certain scenes is below par. Yet I say that 'Nishabd' is a piece of good cinema because a few flaws in the form can never undermine the strength of content, which 'Nishabd' abounds with.

You can make a technically topnotch film, but what's the point if it has a fragile soul. 'Nishabd' has a soul, and a soul that cannot be spelt (pun intended). It has to be seen with an open frame of mind. Only then can one appreciate a film like 'Nishabd', despite some of its technical flaws.

And - now coming to the main point - if you want to see Amitabh Bachchan the superactor, rather than the superstar, then 'Nishabd' is the film. But I will speak more on that later. First a brief glimpse into what the film is about.

Bodies age, feelings don't. 'Nishabd' is the story of a 60-year-old photographer (Amitabh Bachchan) who gets attracted to an 18-year-old girl (Jiah Khan) who is a friend of his daughter. It is the story of mutual love between two people with a huge age gap between them. It is a moving tale of a man torn between his emotions and rationality, between his heart and his mind. The man listens to his heart, concedes to the girl that he is in love with her. He admits to his wife (Revathy) that he has developed feelings for a girl the age of his daughter. And by doing so he loses the respect of his wife and his daughter.

'Nishabd' is a film about loss: about loss of love and loss of purpose in life. It is about the inexplicable desire to reclaim youth when one is in the sunset of one's life. This is the rationale presented by the movie's 60-year-old protagonist while explaining his attraction towards a teenager. This attraction, though not uncommon, is seldom expressed in real life. And those who express it mostly end up like the protagonist of 'Nishabd'.

The movie rests solely on the dependable shoulders of Amitabh Bachchan. If not for him, 'Nishabd' would have ended up as a mediocre product.

It is a popular notion in Bollywood that acting is about speaking punchy dialogues, shedding tears, delivering monologues and giving intense facial expressions. Performances are often not distinguished from roles. If a role is strong, the performance (be it good or bad) automatically gets appreciated.

Here, I want to draw a fine dividing line between Mr. Bachchan's role and performance. In 'Nishabd' he is not the typical hero. On the contrary, he plays a character who cannot resist the desire and temptation for a young girl. So the Bollywood convention would have him labeled a 'weak' character.

This is where Mr. Bachchan's performance stands out. His dialogues in the film are pretty plain, but it is the way he delivers them that lends the impact. Many things about his character remain vocally unsaid, but it is his expressions and his glances that make them explicit. Mr. Bachchan even speaks through his silences in the film. He brings out the inner conflict of his character in his body language, his eyes and his expressions. In a nutshell, it is a performance worth saluting.

Jiah Khan is perfectly suited to her role of a girl quite careless about the way she is dressed. There is a sexual undertone to her character in the film and her performance of it is not bad for a first timer.

Revathy's acting is natural. Nasser (as her brother in the film) is effective.

'Nishabd' goes to prove that Ram Gopal Varma has not lost his magic touch. The maverick filmmaker is truly the master of his craft. From the opening reels to the conclusion, Varma unspools the story at a rhythmic pace. The cinematography and the camera angles are superb. The editing, though jerky at times, is slick. And never does the elegance of form overpower the movie's main content.

For all the lovers of good quality cinema, 'Nishabd' is strongly recommended. The film has a riveting plot and Mr. Bachchan at his best.

To hell with convention. I give this film four stars out of five.

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